Every year, there are specific periods wherein qualified individuals are allowed to apply for Medicare benefits. These periods, called enrollment periods, typically occur on an annual basis, but there are other enrollment periods that do not have standard dates. The Special Enrollment Period and Initial Enrollment Period are alternative enrollment periods that allow you to enroll in Medicare outside of Annual Open Enrollment periods. This is what you need to know about the Special Enrollment Periods offered by Medicare.
How To Enroll In Medicare
If you want to enroll in Medicare, you must verify that you meet the eligibility requirements. Primarily, you should be age 65 or older or diagnosed with a qualifying disability. In most cases, people with disabilities must have collected Social Security Disability benefits for at least 24 months before they can qualify for Medicare benefits. Although, individuals who are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or End-Stage Renal Disease will automatically qualify for Medicare.
To enroll, you will need to submit the appropriate forms to the Medicare agency. Typically, this can be done online via Medicare.gov. If you need help managing this process, you can seek help from a qualified agency, like Game Changing Benefits. Signing up for alternative plans, like Medicare Advantage or supplemental insurance may require a greater understanding of the Medicare process.
What Are Special Enrollment Periods?
If you don’t enroll when you are first eligible for Medicare benefits, you may need to inquire about a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods are generally only offered to people who have missed their chance to sign up during the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods do not have a stated limitation, as the amount of time given during a SEP varies depending on the circumstances.
You automatically qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if:
- You or your spouse is working
- And you are covered by a group health plan through the employer or a union related to that work
- You may also qualify for an automatic 8-month Special Enrollment Period that begins the month after employment ends or the month after a group health plan insurance based on current employment ends.
Benefits Of Enrolling During Special Enrollment Period
Although Special Enrollment Periods are not the ideal option for enrolling in Medicare, for many they may be the only option. The convenience of still being able to enroll in Medicare, even when other enrollment options are closed, is one of the main benefits of the Special Enrollment Period. The fact that Special Enrollment Periods may also permit you to avoid late enrollment penalties is a secondary benefit.