How to Enroll in Medicare if You’re Working Past 65

working past 65

For decades, the gold standard for retirement age was 65. But in the last several years, we’ve seen the retirement age inch up with many folks working past 65. Now, 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older are participating in the workforce—the highest rate in nearly six decades.

Some of this is due to the U.S. government formally changing the Social Security retirement age. Since 1983, the retirement age, previously set at 65 has slowly inched toward 67, with the current age set at 66 and eight months.  

But there’s more going on here. Not only are we living longer, but also the cost of living is exponentially higher than 10 or 20 years ago. Unfortunately, many of us weren’t able to adequately plan for retirement.

What is fortunate is that no matter your employment status, you can still enroll in your Medicare benefit at age 65. Here’s how.

What if you have employer-provided health benefits? 

When you turn 65, even if you’re working, you gain access to what’s called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). If you have employer-provided healthcare, you can still apply for Medicare Part A.

You may be wondering why this is necessary. If you require medical care not covered by your employer-provided plan, your Medicare Part A plan will pick up where your primary coverage leaves off. The Part A Medicare benefit is premium-free, so you stand nothing to lose financially by enrolling.

If you have a spouse who isn’t working, is over 65 and covered by your private insurance, the same principles apply.

But do stay on top of enrolling, because Medicare won’t remind you to sign up unless you currently get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. Also, in order to take advantage of Medicare, you or your spouse must have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years of your lives.

What if you’re working past 65 and losing your employer-provided health benefits?

When you decide to retire, you’ll need to make changes to your (and your spouse’s, if applicable) Medicare coverage. You probably already have Part A at this point, but you need to get supplemental coverage to make up for what used to be covered by your employer-provided health insurance.

If you’re beyond your IEP and are losing your employer-provided insurance outside of another enrollment period, like OEP or AEP, you’ll be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). SEPs enable beneficiaries with extenuating circumstances to enroll in Medicare programs outside the typical enrollment periods.

The SEP for Parts A and B will last for eight months beginning the month after you lose your private health insurance benefits. The SEP for Parts C and D will last for two months beginning the month after you lose your private health insurance benefits. So, if you retire in March 2020, you’ll have between the months of April and November 2020 to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B and April and May to enroll in Medicare Parts C and D, if needed. Confused? Don’t worry, is here to help.

What about Medicare Part B and D? 

You may be aware of penalties for late enrollment in Medicare Part B and/or D. Since you’re covered by employer-provided health insurance during your IEP, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to delay enrolling in Parts B and D.

You’ll have to consult with your employer to confirm eligibility.

With any health insurance decision, particularly those related to Medicare, we recommend you work with your employer’s plan administrator to understand what coverage you have, what coverage you need and how those options will change upon retirement. 

If you need help or have questions about Medicare when working past 65, visit our website or call (877) 255-6273. You’ll talk to a knowledgeable member of our team who will help you navigate the Medicare system and find your best coverage options.

You may also seek assistance from Medicare by calling (800) MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Pete Blasi