How to Sign Up for Medicare in Illinois
Signing up for Medicare for the first time can be a bit intimidating, especially since there are penalties for missing the deadline.
Here’s everything you need to know about enrolling in Medicare, including some common questions about how Social Security plays a part.
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How do I enroll in Medicare for the first time?
If you’re already drawing Social Security, you’ll automatically get your red, white, and blue Medicare card about 2-3 months before you turn age 65.
If you’re not drawing Social Security yet, there are two ways to sign up for Medicare for the first time: online or in-person.
If you’re not comfortable enrolling online, you can call your local Social Security office and request an appointment.
Go to SSA.gov, Social Security’s website, or call your local SS office and request an appt to sign up.
If you’re in Decatur, IL, call 888-619-4773. The Social Security office is located at 606 W Pershing Rd, Decatur, IL 62526.
In case you’re wondering what everyone else is doing, it’s honestly split down the middle. About half of the clients we help are already drawing Social Security, so they are automatically enrolled in Medicare. The other half needs to enroll by going online or visiting the SSA office.
What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?
If you apply for Medicare online, typically, no documentation is required. All you need to sign up is:
- Date and Place of Birth
- MEDICAID Number (if eligible)
- Current Health Insurance (start and end dates of your employment as well as the Group Health Insurance provided by them to you)
If you don’t yet have a my Social Security account, you will also need to answer a few identity questions, including but not limited to:
- Mobile phone number (to receive texts)
- Credit card
- Tax forms
Is it difficult to sign up for Medicare online?
Signing up for Medicare is not tricky, but it can be a bit time-consuming.
Our agents here at Sams/Hockaday recommend grabbing your favorite beverage of choice, kicking your feet up, and taking your time! They say it takes at least 30 minutes, even though the SSA says it takes around 10.
Sign up online if you can – going to your local SSA office takes even longer.
Do you automatically get Medicare with Social Security?
No, you don’t automatically get Medicare with Social Security. Medicare and Social Security are separate programs, though they do work together in some ways.
For example, Social Security notifies Medicare if you die, and your Medicare premiums can be automatically deducted from your Social Security check.
While enrolling in Social Security doesn’t automatically enroll you in Medicare, many individuals enroll in both at the same time. Usually, you’re transitioning at the same time, so you’ll start drawing Social Security when you’re ready to enroll in Medicare.
Keep in mind if you’re still working, you probably don’t need to sign up for Part B of Medicare yet. You can call our office to set up an appointment and go over those fine details.
Do I have to sign up for Medicare if I have private insurance?
No, if you have private insurance or employer coverage, you do not have to sign up for Medicare. The only caveat is that private insurance must be credible coverage in the eyes of Medicare.
This is rarely an issue, but we’ve had problems with employer drug plans in the past. Sometimes, employer drug plans don’t qualify as credible coverage, and you could face penalties later on in the form of higher premiums.
Most employers have fixed this problem, but it has come up in the past. If you are turning 65 and have insurance through your employer, please meet with us to ensure you have credible coverage and won’t face future penalties.
Can I get Social Security and not sign up for Medicare?
Yes, you can get Social Security without signing up for Medicare. However, this is rare because most working people don’t want to start drawing Social Security yet.
Learn more about Social Security benefits and Medicare
Do I have to apply for Medicare Part B?
If you’re drawing Social Security, you don’t have to apply for Medicare Part B because it happens automatically.
If you’re not drawing Social Security, you have to sign up for Part B, which you can do online or at your local Social Security office.
What happens if I miss my Medicare enrollment window?
Missing your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, so please call our office before turning 65 to avoid this!
You not only have to wait to apply – and go uninsured in the meantime – but you’re also penalized for life.
The General Enrollment Period is from January 1– March 31, and the coverage starts on July 1 of that year. For example, if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period in August, you’d have to go uninsured until the following July.
On top of that, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare Part B. The late enrollment penalty takes the standard premium amount and increases it by 10% for each full 12-month period you could’ve had Part B but didn’t.
If you have credible coverage – this is common with people who choose to keep working past age 65 – you won’t be penalized, and you don’t have to worry about missing the deadline.
How do I make sure I avoid all penalties?
Unless you have credible coverage, the best way to avoid all penalties is to sign up for Medicare Part B and Part D as soon as you’re eligible. For most people, this is when they turn 65 years old.
Even if you don’t take any medications, sign up for the lowest premium Part D plan (typically less than $10 per month). This will provide you coverage if you need it, but most importantly, it will help you avoid future penalties.
Of course, the best way to ensure you avoid all penalties is to work with an agent here at Sams/Hockaday. Call us when you’re 64 years old, and we will ensure you are all set. Our services have no cost to you.
Signing up for Medicare for the first time can be confusing, especially with all the rules, penalties, and enrollment windows.
Rest assured that you will not miss any crucial deadlines when working with an agent here at Sams/Hockaday! We know all the rules, so you don’t have to.
Give us a call at (217) 423-8000 today or schedule an appointment online.
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