Medicare Enrollment Periods
Sign Up for Medicare Without Penalty or Additional Fees
If you turn 65 and have not yet received Social Security retirement benefits, you will need to apply for Medicare during an enrollment period. Enrollment periods are timeframes when you can sign up for Medicare without penalty or additional fees.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
This is a seven-month window that begins three months prior to your 65th birthday and ends three months after. For example, if your birthday is in August, your IEP starts in May and ends in November.
General Enrollment Period
The General Enrollment Period falls between January 1 and March 31 each year. This enrollment period is for people who did not sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B during their Initial Enrollment Period. Original Medicare coverage would then start in July of the same year.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
Unless you are able to participate in another enrollment period, this is the only time that you can enroll or change your Medicare plan for the following year. Medicare members typically use this time to join Medicare Part C or Medicare Part D, also known as Medicare Advantage Plans, if they did not do so previously. The AEP takes place each year between October 15 and December 7.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may disenroll between January 1 and March 31 each year and revert to Original Medicare Parts A and/or B or switch to another Medicare Advantage plan.