Sign Up for Medicare and Estimate Medicare Costs

November 7, 2019 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 16, 2021

" "Affordable medical coverage is something everyone wants, especially as people age. Luckily, our nation has safeguards for workers as they get older. Millions of people rely on Medicare, and it can be part of your health insurance plan when you retire.

Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, as well as younger people who have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, and people with certain specific diseases. Two parts of Medicare are Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medicare Insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years.  Part B usually requires a monthly premium payment.

You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail.

You can sign up for Medicare on our website.

If you don’t sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment window that begins three months before the birthday that you reach age 65 and ends three months after that birthday, you’ll face a 10 percent increase in your Part B premiums for every year-long period you’re eligible for coverage but don’t enroll. You may not have to pay the penalty if you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). If you are 65 or older and covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse’s current employment, you may have a special enrollment period during which you can sign up for Medicare Part B. This means that you may delay enrolling in Part B without having to wait for a general enrollment period and without paying the lifetime penalty for late enrollment. Additional rules and limits apply, so if you think a special enrollment period may apply to you, read our Medicare publication, and visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for more information.

Health and drug costs not covered by Medicare can have a big impact on how much you spend each year. You can also estimate Medicare costs using an online tool.

Keeping your healthcare costs down allows you to use your retirement income on other things that you can enjoy. Social Security is here to help you plan a long and happy retirement. Visit our website today.

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner


  1. Richard H.

    I have received a notice regarding income related adjustment to my medicare part B which is contrary to prior notification from CMMS. It appears to be based on my tax return of 2018 which was inflated due to deferred compensation. Income from my tax return filed for 2019 is significantly less and is reflective of my on-going retirement income. My medicare coverage doesn’t even start until August of 2020, why would anyone assume my 2018 income was a basis for determining the adjustment, the IRS has had my 2019 return since March. Who do I see to correct this?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Richard. Thanks for your question. If the notice specifically says “income-related monthly adjustment” then you are subject to a higher premium for your Medicare Part B based on income reported on federal income tax returns. For more information and what to do if you think your Medicare income-related premium is incorrect, please visit here. We hope this helps.

  2. Ken S.

    I am 65, still working and eligalbe for medicare. I have not applied because I have a high deductible plan at work with an HSA. In order to keep my wife covers <65, I continue to get coverage through work. I would like to begin receiving social security. Can I apply for social security without applying for medicare?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Ken, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Generally, individuals receiving Social Security benefits are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you do not want Medicare Part B because you are actively employed and have coverage from an employer group health plan through that active employment, you can refuse Part B and enroll later, during a Special Enrollment Period. However, you cannot refuse Part A.

      Once you lose that health insurance or are no longer actively employed, whichever comes first, you can enroll in Medicare Part B during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). We always suggest that individuals speak to their personnel office, health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future.

  3. Mrs. M.

    how do i apply for medicare?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Mrs Marty Walker, thank you for your question. You can apply for Medicare benefits online if you are at least 64 years and 9 months old.

      If you are unable or do not want to apply for benefits online, you can schedule an appointment by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or by calling your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. Deborah Y.

    I have medicare part A… But I work full time. I want to retire July1st how do I apply for part b

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Deborah, thank you for using our blog. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our process has changed. Check out the section titled Can I enroll in Medicare?for details on how to enroll in Medicare Part B. We hope this helps.

  5. Jeff D.

    I had done some research on cost of medicare for higher income individuals late last year. At that time there were various references to This publication no longer appears available. Was it intentionally or accidentally deleted? Also I am struggling to find information on form SSA-004. Can you provide some help. My anticipated income for 2020 will be significantly lower this year than in 2018 and 2019.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Jeff, thank you for using our blog. To determine if you’ll pay higher premiums, Social Security uses the most recent federal tax return the IRS provides to us. If you must pay higher premiums, we use a sliding scale to make the adjustments, based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Your MAGI is your total adjusted gross income and tax-exempt interest income.

      For details regarding an appeal, check out the factsheet: What You Can Do if You Think Your Medicare Income-Related Premium is Incorrect.

      To report a Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount Life-Changing Event, complete and return the form to your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      • Jeff D.

        Thanks for the quick reply. So back to my original question. One of the links you provided above is pointing to document On the first page of that document in the lower left column it states “If your income has gone down, however, due to certain
        specific circumstances, or if you filed an amended tax
        return, you can ask for a new decision without having to
        file an appeal. See our fact sheet, Medicare Premiums:
        Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries (SSA Publication
        No. 05-10536) for more details. You don’t have to file an
        appeal to get a new decision.” I still cannot find publication 05-10536. Is there a replacement for this or has it been accidentally deleted? Also in my original post I asked about form SSA-004. Has that been replaced by SSA-44?

        • Jeff D.

          Not sure I have seen a response to my reply of May 1, 2020 at 9:43am. Can you please clarify these questions?

  6. Reader

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  7. Kathy R.

    If I will qualify for social security disability due to a compassionate allowance diagnosis, is there any way to get Medicare earlier than 24 months. I am facing a lung transplant in near future. What do people do for insurance during that waiting period?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Kathy, thank you for your question. After you receive disability benefits for 24 months, you’ll be eligible for Medicare. You will get information about Medicare several months before your coverage starts. If you have permanent kidney failure requiring regular dialysis or a transplant or you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you may qualify for
      Medicare almost immediately. In the meantime, you want to check out for health care options. We hope this helps.

  8. destiny k.

    my brother gets disability because he js deaf (hard of hearing) he js turning 22 years old on April 30th and our mom just passed away 2 weeks ago so I don’t have the information I need ..and he is eligible for a upgrade on his cochular implant but he doesn’t have insurance. who or what do I call to get him insurance.?

  9. steven w.

    I am newly enrolled as of 7/1/2020 for Part A & B. I would like the Part B premium separated and not taken out of my SS check. How can I accomplish this?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Steven, thank you for your question. If you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, your Part B (Medical Insurance) Premium will get deducted automatically from your benefit payment. You cannot opt out of automatic payments. If you don’t get benefits, you’ll get a bill to pay your premiums. We hope this helps.

  10. Juan N.

    I am an insurance agent for many years. I have a client who did not pay his Part B premiums, and he lost his coverage. He paid his premiums in full within 30 days of his termination notice, BUT his part B was not reinstated. He owes nothing. We took the issue to the local SS office but to no avail on reinstatement. How can he get this problem solved? We talked to Medicare, but they say SS has to approved, which they did, but nothing is done yet. Can he get an expediated reinstatement? Please advise & thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Juan, thank you for using our blog. We do not have access to private information in this venue. Your client should continue working with his local office regarding this matter. He can call his local Social Security office. Look for the general inquiry number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

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