| Thu, Feb 21, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Applying for Medicare in the 21st Century

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

helping grandparents enroll in medicareBack in the day, the only way to apply for Medicare was to talk with a Social Security representative—in person or by phone. You can still do that, and you can complete an application with pen and paper if you choose.

Today’s technology, once the stuff of science fiction, offers another option. Social Security, Medicare and Star Trek’s Sulu (George Takei) are inviting you to “boldly go online.” Patty Duke, that former TV sprite with the look-alike cousin, has also joined the effort. Hard to imagine? Watch the video.

Note that if you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you don’t have to apply for Medicare. You will be enrolled in Medicare automatically when you become eligible.

How Does It Work?

Completing an online Medicare application takes just minutes, and you can do it from the comfort of your home or any computer. Just go to SocialSecurity.gov and select “Apply for Medicare Only.” Then follow the onscreen directions.

You’ll need to supply basic information such as birth date, etc. You’ll also answer some questions about your current health care coverage. The system will guide you through the process based on your answers.

You can start the application and save it to complete later if you need to. You’ll get an application number that you can use to access your saved information. This same number allows you to check on the status of your submitted application. The site is secure. Your privacy and personal information are protected.

You will see a receipt on the screen after submitting your application. Be sure to save it or print it out. Medicare will review your application and send you a letter with its decision.

Who Can Do It?

You can sign up for Medicare even if you’re not ready to retire. You need to meet these requirements:

  • You are within three months of turning age 65 or older.
  • You want to sign up for Medicare benefits and do not currently have any Medicare coverage.
  • You do not want to apply for monthly Social Security retirement benefits at this time.

A family member or caregiver can complete a loved one’s online Medicare application, but the beneficiary must agree to the Electronic Signature and Submission Agreement in the final step.

When is it Available?

The online application is available seven days a week during the following hours (Eastern time):

  • Monday-Friday: 5 a.m. until 1 a.m.
  • Saturday: 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
  • Sunday: 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
  • Holidays: 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.

If applying online is not for you, you can call Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, TTY 1-800-325-0778, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. Some services are available through a 24-hour automated response system.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

How to Apply Online for Medicare Only: Follow these step-by-step directions.

Boldly Go Online: Watch a video of Star Trek’s Sulu and Patty Duke learning about applying for Medicare online.

Y0066_130122_110658 CMS Accepted