I’m turning 65 in March and I was surprised when Social Security told me to go online to sign up for Medicare. There is no local Social Security office open that can help me with the online application process. The Social Security representative suggested that I need a “My Social Security Account” to begin the process.
I’m afraid if I go online I’ll have to get my social security check. I don’t want to start my Social Security check until I’m 70.
Can you explain in simple terms where I should go online so I can properly enroll in Medicare? I work part time and have no employer benefit. I urgently need to start Medicare benefits in March.
— Carla from Arizona
With budget problems, the Social Security Administration discovered how much payroll costs could be saved by allowing Americans to enroll online. Carla, the good news is that starting a “My Social Security Account” online doesn’t start with your Social Security check.
People who have been receiving Social Security benefits for at least 90 days before they turn 65 are automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A and B when they qualify.
But for those who don’t receive Social Security benefits before age 65, Medicare has no idea that you turn 65 and should receive your Medicare card with parts A and/or B. (Chapter 1 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced Edition explains from how to enroll in Medicare.)
Carla, you mentioned that you are not receiving your Social Security check, are not working full time with real company benefits, and that Social Security has advised you to enroll online. The best time to enroll in Medicare is three months before you turn 65 by going to ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.
When you begin enrolling in Medicare, Social Security will ask you if you have a “My Social Security Account.”
If you do have a “My Social Security Account,” please have your username and password ready to complete the Medicare application.
If you don’t have a “My Social Security Account,” go to ssa.gov/myaccount to register yourself (and your spouse if you’re married) for an account — several months (if possible) before applying for Medicare. That way, you should be able to enroll in Medicare during your initial seven-month enrollment period (three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65).
Due to the closure of local Social Security offices during the pandemic, if you are having trouble opening an account, you should now call your local Social Security number 800 (800-772-1213) and notify the Social Security agent.
Once your account is created, you will need the following information to submit to Medicare (ssa.gov/benefits/medicare):
— Name, social security number, gender and date of birth.
— Address, phone number, email address.
— Citizenship information about you.
— Answers to questions about your health benefits.
After you submit your Medicare application online, you can view your receipt, which explains what, if any, additional information may be required (such as a marriage license, if you have fewer than 40 quarters and are applying under your spouse’s Medicare benefits , or your integration papers).
You should then be able to view your benefits verification letter in your account to obtain your Medicare number and Part A and/or B dates, or wait for your new Medicare card to arrive in the mail.
Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance. She was a top seller in the field for over 27 years. For a Medicare check, email [email protected] or call 832-519-8664. You can visit seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts and get other information for seniors.