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What Documents Do I Need When Applying for Medicare?

Senior woman doing paperwork

If you are approaching the time to enroll in Medicare, take the time to gather the documentation the agency requires. Medicare allows you to enroll online, by phone, or in person at a local Social Security office. The documentation needed will depend on whether you already receive Social Security benefits. If you do, there is no need to submit documents. If you do not yet receive Social Security benefits, the basic information you need to apply for Medicare is as follows:

  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Citizenship information
  • Name and SSN of your spouse or any former spouse(s)
  • Date and location of marriages/divorces
  • Names and ages of children under 18 or children up to 19 who are still in high school
  • Names and ages of any disabled children (disabled before age 22)
  • Whether you have applied for SS benefits in the past
  • Name and address of employers in the past two years
  • Your income for the past two years (you may need to estimate the next year’s income)
  • Dates of military service, if prior to 1968
  • Information regarding employment in the railroad industry if any
  • Information about credits for government retirements plans from another country
  • Data regarding any federal pension you are eligible to receive now or in the future

This information simply needs to be entered on your Medicare application. However, if you are not yet receiving Social Security benefits you will also need to submit several original documents to the agency to enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital) and Medicare Part B (medical):

  • Original certified birth certificate
  • If born in another country, proof of U.S. citizenship
  • If not a U.S. citizen, proof of legal residency
  • If you served in the armed forces prior to 1968, your service record or discharge papers
  • W-2 for past year, or self-employment tax information
  • A record of your earnings (Social Security yearly statement)

Deadlines for Medicare enrollment

Be aware of the dates in which you can enroll or change a Medicare plan:

  • Initial enrollment: Your initial enrollment period runs from three months before your 65th birthday month, and three months after your birthday month, for a total of seven months in which to enroll. Your individual situation will affect whether you should enroll during this period or would be better served by delaying your enrollment.
  • Open enrollment: If you have enrolled in “original Medicare” and want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan (called Medicare Part C) or move your plan back to original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan, you can do so during the open enrollment period running from October 15 to December 7 yearly. This is the time frame in which you are allowed to change plans such as switching your prescription plan (Medicare Part D).
  • General enrollment: If you missed enrolling in Medicare during the initial enrollment period, or chose to wait, you can enroll any time between January 1 and March 31 each year.
  • Medicare Advantage open enrollment: During this period, you can move your coverage from one plan to another or move back to original Medicare. This enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31, open only to those currently on a Medicare Advantage plan.

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