Initial Election Period
When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B. If you’re eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you can sign up during the 7-month period that begins: 3 months before the month you turn 65, and 3 months after your 65th birthday.
General Election Period
People who did not enroll in Part A or B during their IEP, or terminated their Part A or Part B benefits and want to re-enroll, may enroll in either or both Parts during the General Election Period (GEP), which is January 1st to March 31st of each year. If you enroll during the GEP, your benefits will begin the following July 1st. You may have to pay the late enrollment penalty.
Annual Election Period
The Annual Election Period (AEP), also called Medicare Open Enrollment, runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. During this time frame, people can join, change or drop an Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D plan. For example:
• If you did not enroll in an MA plan or a Part D plan during your initial periods, you may enroll in an MA plan or a Part D plan during the AEP.
• If you are already in an MA plan or a Part D plan, you may change plans or disenroll from your plan during the AEP.
• If you previously had an MA plan, went back to Original Medicare and now want to be in an MA plan again, you may enroll during the AEP.
You may make more than one change during the AEP. Your last change received during that period is the one that counts. The last or only change made during the AEP will be effective January 1 of the following year.
Special Election Periods
For Part B, a Special Election Period (SEP) is available only for people who delay enrollment because they have employer group coverage. If you become eligible for Medicare at 65 and have coverage from an employer group health plan based on your or your spouse’s current employment, you may delay enrollment in Part B. Similarly, if you are younger than 65, become eligible for Medicare due to a disability, and have coverage from an employer group health plan based on your or a family member’s current employment, you may delay enrollment in Part B.
When you stop working or the employer group health coverage otherwise ends, you have an SEP to enroll in Part B. The SEP is 8 months following the end of employment or the employer group health coverage, whichever is earlier. If you enroll during the SEP, you do not owe the late enrollment penalty for Part B. Note: If you have end stage renal disease, you do not have this same SEP, See our fact sheet “Medicare and People with End Stage Renal Disease (ERSD)
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