Medicare

What to Know About Enrolling in Medicare Part B

Sign up for Medicare Part B no later than eight months after you leave your job or you could be hit with lifetime penalties.

Question: I signed up for Medicare Part A when I turned 65, but I didn’t enroll in Part B because I was still working and had health insurance from my employer. But now I’m 68, and I plan to retire later this year. What do I need to do to enroll in Medicare Part B, and when do I need to do it?

Answer:

Many people who are still working just sign up for Medicare Part A at 65 (because it’s free) and delay signing up for Part B while they’re covered by their employer’s insurance. But you must sign up for Medicare Part B no later than eight months after you leave your job and lose that coverage, or else you could get hit with a lifetime penalty and a gap in coverage.

You can’t sign up online because your employer needs to provide proof that until now you had coverage at work. You can submit the paperwork by mail or in person at your local Social Security office. You will need to fill out the following forms: CMS-40B Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B and, because you worked past 65, CMS-L564 Request for Employment Information, to be filled out by your employer. If you’ve had more than one job with health coverage since you turned 65, you’ll need each employer to fill out a separate form.

It will probably take the Social Security Administration a while to process the paperwork. Tatiana Fassieux, California Health Advocates board chair, recommends mailing your application or making an appointment with Social Security at least two months before you retire to ensure that your Part B coverage begins the first month you’re officially retired. The Social Security office can also give you a letter of eligibility or enrollment so you can start looking for a medigap policy, and for a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, she says.

Keep in mind that only health insurance from a current employer counts as eligible coverage for delaying Medicare sign-up. If you have retiree health coverage or if you continue your employer’s coverage through COBRA, you’ll still need to sign up for Medicare Part B within eight months of leaving your job, says Medicare advocate Sue Greeno, of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

You can get help with the process from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see the SHIP resource page for links to your state contacts). Also see the Center for Medicare Advocacy’s Eligibility & Enrollment information and the Medicare Rights Center’s Special Enrollment Period fact sheet.

Most Popular

How to Use Your Estate Plan to Save on Taxes While You’re Still Alive!
estate planning

How to Use Your Estate Plan to Save on Taxes While You’re Still Alive!

Upstream basis planning is a trust strategy that can save wealthy people on their capital gains taxes and income taxes associated with highly apprecia…
July 3, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
5 Ways to Prepare for a Recession
recession

5 Ways to Prepare for a Recession

The signs seem to be pointing in one direction these days, so if you’re worried about being ready for a recession, consider taking these five measures…
June 28, 2022

Recommended

How 13 Types of Retirement Income Get Taxed
retirement

How 13 Types of Retirement Income Get Taxed

When you're planning for retirement, it's fun to contemplate all the travel and rounds of golf ahead of you, but don't forget about taxes.
June 30, 2022
Shingles Vaccines Work. But Medicare Won’t Always Cover Them.
Medicare

Shingles Vaccines Work. But Medicare Won’t Always Cover Them.

Traditional Medicare Part B does not cover some recommended vaccines, including shingles shots; prescription drug plans include commercially available…
June 29, 2022
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2022 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2022 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2022 tax year. Smart taxpayers will start planning for them now.
June 10, 2022
12 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

12 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in one of these states, your Social Security benefits may be subject to state taxes.
June 8, 2022