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How to Enroll in Medicare

How to Enroll in Medicare

Here is the original article I submitted to ENOA's New Horizons for March 2024.  Some changes were made to the article; please disregard that article and use this information instead.

I noticed that Social Security is moving significantly slower than usual for my clients that are enrolling in Medicare. Don’t wait until the end of the month to enroll for the next month!

You will want to start the enrollment process the full 3 months prior to the month that you want to get on Medicare. For example, if you want to get on Medicare because you’re turning 65 or will be ending creditable employer coverage in June, you want to apply for Medicare in March.

Make sure that you know you need to sign up for your Part A and Part B before you do so.

There can be penalties for signing up for Part A if you keep your employer’s coverage and it includes HSA (Health Savings Account) benefits. Conversely, if you miss the deadlines for signing up for Part B and Part D there can be penalties associated for missing these deadlines as well. If you’re not sure, feel free to reach out to your local independent insurance agent to confirm.

So, on that cheerful note, here are some tips to avoid frustration and gaps and penalties regarding signing up for Medicare and all the parts.

Create a “My Social Security Account” at

You can do this at any time regardless of whether you are applying for Medicare, so the sooner the better. To create an account, they will ask you a series of identity questions for verification. You may want to have certain items on hand to be prepared for additional security questions, such as, but not limited to mobile phone (for the purpose of receiving texts and emails), credit card, W-2, and tax forms.

If you were born outside the United States or its territories: Date and Place of Birth, Name of your birth country at the time of your birth (it may have a different name now), Permanent Resident Card number (if you are not a U.S citizen)

MEDICAID Number (State Health Insurance) - Start and End Dates

Current Health Insurance, Employment start and end dates for the current employer (of you or your spouse) who provides your health insurance coverage through a Group Health Plan, Start and end dates for the Group Health Insurance provided by you (or your spouse’s) current employer.

3 options to Apply for Medicare: Online, By Phone, or in Person:

Please note that with all 3 of these options, enrollment is not immediate. You will apply, and then you will wait for a Medicare number and your card. This can take 2 to 6 weeks after you apply. For example, I had a client that was locked out of his Social Security account, so he called on Feb 5th to make a phone appointment for March 25th. That’s a 7 week wait for the phone appointment, and then he could wait anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after that to get his Medicare number and card.

How to Apply for Medicare Online

Social Security offers you a quick online application for Medicare. You do not have to be receiving Social Security income benefits to get Medicare. Just visit the Social Security website, create an account, and follow the links about applying for Medicare.

To apply for both Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare at the same time, go to

To apply for just Medicare, go to

While you wait for Social Security to process your request, if you haven’t already met with a local independent agent to help you understand your options to cover the gaps in original Medicare, now is the time.

Enrolling in Medicare online is the ideal option, but occasionally people run into problems. If that happens, you can sign up by phone.

How to Apply for Medicare by Phone

Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 Available in most U.S. time zones Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. in English and other languages.

Tell the representative you want to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B, or Part A only. Call TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you're deaf or hard of hearing.

If you have Railroad Retirement, contact the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772.

Social Security will schedule a telephone appointment with you to take your application over the phone. To clarify, you don’t simply make a phone call and immediately get enrolled. You call to make a phone appointment, and then Social Security will make a phone appointment for you to apply via phone.

Your SS representative may send you some forms to complete. The forms must be mailed to you, and then you complete them and mail them back. This can also cause delays.

How to Apply for Medicare in Person

Some people prefer to apply for Medicare in person at a local Social Security office. This might be an option if you are very close to turning 65 or are already 65 and losing employer coverage and need to get your application processed quickly. If you find yourself in this situation, please request that they expedite your appointment due to you being without coverage.

In the Omaha metro, the local Social Security office is at:


604 N 109TH CT

OMAHA, NE 68154

Phone: 1-866-76-8299

TTY: 1-800-325-0788

Fax: 1-833-515-0443

Do not just stop in, they will not be able to accept walk-ins. Call and make an appointment.

When you meet with a representative, ask for a printout that shows that you have applied for Medicare Part A & B.

Sign up for Medicare Supplement/Medigap and Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan

You do not have to wait to receive your Medicare Card, but you will need your Medicare number with Part A and B start dates to get enrolled in the options to cover the gaps in coverage. You have 63 days from the effective date of your Medicare Part B to enroll in a Medicare Supplement/Medigap plan and Drug Plan, OR a Medicare Advantage Plan. Coverage begins on the first of the month following the month you apply.

I highly recommend that you work with a local, trusted independent agent for this part of the process. When you’re visiting with your agent, if they don’t explain to you all your options and some financial scenarios of the differences between these options, choose a different agent.

There is no charge for using a local, trusted agent. We make a small commission from the companies that we help you get signed up with. Then you will have a local advocate to help you throughout the year if you have any questions or issues, and every year at the Annual Election Period, your agent will review your plan and make sure you are still on the best options for your situation.

Here's to a happy and peaceful enrollment into Medicare!