My issue regarding how to enroll in Medicare is different from any enrollment problem that I have read in the Toni Says Medicare column. I understand from an email a friend received from Medicare.gov last year that there are new “turning 65” enrollment rules in Medicare.
I have rheumatoid arthritis and turn 65 on Feb. 20. I need my Medicare to begin May 1 because my husband is retiring and losing his company benefits as of that date.
I am a non-working spouse due to my health issues and do not have enough work quarters to receive Medicare on my own. I do not know how to apply using my husband’s Medicare benefits. What do I do?
Heather, Nashville, Tennessee
It is very important for you to enroll in Medicare correctly since you are short of the 40 quarters of working and paying taxes to qualify under your Social Security number. For your Medicare, you will have to qualify under your husband’s Social Security number (if he has the 40 quarters to qualify).
Call your local Social Security office (or the main Social Security office at 800-772-1213) to arrange an appointment, either over the phone or in-person, and ask how to apply under your husband’s work record. You will need an “original” certified marriage license to show Social Security that you are currently married.
Prior to talking with a Social Security representative, set up a www.ssa.gov account. Social Security may want you to enroll in Medicare online by visiting www.ssa.gov/medicare/sign-up when talking with the representative who is guiding you through this process. Heather, with you being short 40 work quarters, the process is a little bit more complicated than for someone using their own benefits.
The changes that your friend mentioned regarding enrolling in Medicare when turning 65 began Jan. 1, 2023. Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period is the 7-month period which occurs three months before turning 65, the month you turn 65 and three months after turning 65. (Chapter 1 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition explains enrolling in Medicare in detail.)
Here’s how the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period 7-month timeline works:
• If you enroll anytime three months before turning 65, your Medicare begins the first day of the month you turn 65. Since Heather will turn 65 on Feb. 20, she can enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B in November, December or January (three months prior) for a Feb. 1 effective date.
• If you enroll the month you turn 65, then Medicare will begin the first of the next month. If Heather enrolls in February, her Medicare will begin March 1.
• If you enroll one month after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin the first of the next month. If Heather enrolls in March, her Medicare begins April 1.
• If you enroll two months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin the next month. If Heather enrolls in April, her Medicare will begin May 1.
• If you enroll three months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin the next month. If Heather enrolls in May (three months after the month she turns 65), her Medicare will begin June 1.
Heather, you want your Medicare to begin May 1, so the first of April is when you would want to schedule your appointment with your local Social Security office. Explain your enrollment situation of not having enough quarters and enroll in Medicare during that meeting. Bring your Social Security card, driver’s license and especially your “original” marriage license. Your husband should attend the meeting since you will be using his Social Security information.
Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She has spent nearly 30 years as a top sales leader in the field. If you have a Medicare question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (832) 519-8664. Her books are available at www.tonisays.com with a bundle discount for Toni readers.