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Enrollment Timeline

Medicare Enrollment Timeline

Enrolling or switching Medicare plans at the right time can be even more important than picking the right plan! A missed deadline can cost you higher premiums down the road, or cause you to lose coverage entirely. Find the details here and Personalize Your Enrollment Timeline  to help meet those deadlines.

Signing Up For Medicare

Your timeframe for signing up for a Medicare plan depends on your personal circumstances. Medicare enrollment periods include:

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for people turning 65 who are new to Medicare
  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for people over age 65 who are retiring or have special circumstances
  • Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for people over age 65 who are switching Medicare plans
  • Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period for people who want to leave Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) and go back to Medicare Parts A and B

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

If you are new to Medicare, you have a 7-month window to sign up for any of the parts of Medicare that you want. This time period is known as your initial enrollment period, or IEP.

Your Medicare IEP covers:

  • 3 months before your birthday month
  • Your birthday month
  • 3 months after your birthday month

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Certain circumstances, such as retiring after age 65 or losing your employer health plan, qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, or SEP. During your SEP, you have 7 months after an event, such as your retirement date, to sign up for original Medicare offerings (Parts A and B).

This window is much shorter—only 2 months—to sign up for Medicare Advantage (Part C), prescription drug coverage (Part D) or Medicare Supplement Insurance known as Medigap.

Special circumstances that qualify for an SEP include:

  • Change of address to a location that isn’t in your plan’s service area or a location with new plan options
  • Becoming a resident of a nursing home
  • Leaving an employer health plan
  • Losing Medicaid coverage
  • Involuntarily losing prescription drug coverage
  • Meeting low income qualifications

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, takes place every year from October 15 to December 7. During this timeframe, you have the option to:

  • Sign up for Medicare, including private insurance (Medicare Advantage)
  • Switch to a different private insurance company
  • Change your Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop, add or change your prescription drug (Part D) plan
  • Increase or decrease your plan coverage for Medicare Advantage (Part C) or prescription drugs (Part D)
  • Enroll in Medicare Supplement Insurance known as Medigap

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period

From January 1 to February 14 of each year you have the option to leave a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) and return to Medicare Parts A and B. You also can enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) during this time.