Matt Kershaw & Joe Palacio

How do I sign up for Medicare?

If you have any questions, please call Joe Palacio at (949) 929-9908.

Signing up for Medicare can seem daunting and off-putting. But it doesn’t have to be. The process is actually pretty simple.

Before we dive into how to go through every step of signing up, there are a few background things you ought to know. (If you already know all this feel free to skip ahead!)

Medicare comes in four parts, A, B, C and D.

Part A is hospital insurance.

Part B is medical insurance.

Part C is Medicare Advantage — private insurers who sell you access to Medicare.

Part D is prescription drug insurance, paying the cost of your medication.

You may have Medicare already

If you receive Social Security benefits or benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, and it’s at least four months until you hit retirement age, you probably already have Medicare parts A and B.

How do I check if I already have Medicare?

Your Medicare card should tell you if you have Medicare or Medicare Advantage, as well as the basic details of your plan.

If the information you need isn’t on your card, you can check your enrolment status to see if you already have Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

Check this online at or, or by calling Medicare on 1-800-633-4227.

You may not need to sign up for Medicare

If you’re receiving Social Security benefits and you’re turning 65, you probably don’t need to sign up. Social Security will enroll you in Medicare automatically, and mail your Medicare card to you about two months before your 65th birthday.

Which Social Security benefits count?

If you’re receiving:

  • Retirement Benefit
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

You should be enrolled in Medicare automatically.

If you’re over 61 and planning to retire in the next four months, you can apply for retirement benefits and will also be enrolled in Medicare.

I’m about to turn 65 but I don’t want to retire. What happens about Medicare?

You don’t have to receive both retirement benefits and Medicare.

If you’re over 65, you qualify for Medicare whether or not you choose to retire. You can apply for Medicare the same way we explain below.

What information do I need to sign up for Medicare?

You’ll need to have the following information when you sign up for Medicare:

  • Your birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of United States citizenship or legal residency if you were not born in the US
  • Your Social Security card if you are already receiving benefits
  • Health insurance information about the type and dates of coverage
  • Information about your employment, such as a W-2 form, if you are still working
  • US military discharge papers if you served before 1968

If you don’t have your Social Security card or if you don’t know your Social Security number please scroll down to the bottom of this page. We address that situation there.

Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B

To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, you can:

  • Go to this web address:
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM
  • Visit your local social security office

If you have worked on a railroad you should contact Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701). You can call Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM, to speak to an RRB representative.

Signing up for Medicare in person at the Social Security office

To sign up at the Social Security office, all you need to do is show up. You don’t need an appointment. It’s a good idea to phone ahead and arrange an appointment, though, because if you don’t, you don’t know how long you’ll have to queue.

Where’s my local Social Security office?

Social Security has an office locator here. Just enter your ZIP and they’ll show you your nearest office.

Signing up for Medicare over the phone

To sign up for Medicare over the phone, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.

You’ll need to have your information ready, but other than that, staff will walk you through the process.

Signing up for parts A and B online

First, go to

You’ll see this:

social security homepage

The ‘Sign in/up’ link in the top right of the screen is what you want. Click that and you’ll be taken here:

my social security

My Social Security, the box on the left outlined in blue, is the one you want.

Click that and you’ll be asked to sign in or create a new account.

social security sign in page

If you already have an account, just enter your username and password and sign in.

my social security login

But if you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one.

medicare account creation

It’s easiest to fill this in with your Social Security card in front of you, unless you know your information by heart exactly as it appears on your card.

What if I don’t have my Social Security card?

You can use your My Social Security account to apply for a replacement Social Security card online if:

  • You’re a US citizen, aged 18 or older, with a US mailing address. This can be an APO, FPO or DPO address


  • You’re not requesting a name change or any other change — you just want a duplicate of the old card


  • You have a driver’s license or state-issued ID card from a participating state or from the District of Columbia.

Which states participate? All except these:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

If your state appears on this list, you won’t be able to apply for a new Social Security card online and you’ll have to contact Social Security by phone on 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM, or in person.

What if I don’t know my Social Security number?

You can find your Social Security Number on:

  • tax returns
  • W-2s
  • bank statements

If you don’t have any of these on hand you can call your bank and ask for a statement or go to a branch and ask. Any W-2 from a current or previous job should show you your Social Security number:


where can I find my social security number


I created an account. What now?

Once you’ve created an account you should be able to sign up for Medicare online.

This usually takes less than ten minutes. Almost everyone who needs to apply can just complete the online application process, without needing any more documents or forms. Social Security will handle the rest and mail out your Medicare card.

After you sign up for Medicare, your card should take about three weeks to arrive in the mail. It can take up to 60 days for your application to be processed, though, so be sure to apply in plenty of time.

How to sign up for Medicare part C, or Medicare Advantage

Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, replaces Original Medicare with private insurance that you choose and Medicare pays for. You choose the plan that’s right for you. Medicare Advantage plans must include all the benefits offered by Original Medicare parts A and B, but can also include additional benefits.

You can only enroll in Medicare Advantage if you’re already enrolled in Original Medicare.

If you’re already enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you might want to switch to a new plan: here’s how to do that.

How do I find Medicare Advantage providers in my area?

Medicare has a tool for finding the right Medicare Advantage plan based on your needs and location here.

How to sign up for Medicare part D

Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. You’ll need to be enrolled in Medicare to enroll in Medicare Part D, because you’ll need a Medicare number to sign up.

Medicare’s Find a Plan tool will help you select the right Drug Plan for you.

You should also consider how Medicare Part D can work with other drug coverage you might have.

For instance, you might already have drug coverage from:

  • Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB)
  • Veterans’ Benefits
  • TRICARE (military health benefits)
  • Indian Health Services

If you do, you have what’s called ‘ creditable prescription drug coverage,’ which means the coverage you already have is at least as good as Medicare Part D and you’re probably best to keep it.

If you don’t have any of the types of coverage listed above, but you do have existing drug coverage, Medicare Part D might offer you better coverage.

Medicare has a page here explaining how different types of coverage work together.

Once you’ve selected the right plan, you’ll need to enroll. You can do that by:

  • Enrolling directly on the plan finder
  • Enrolling on the website of the plan you have chosen
  • Completing a paper enrolment form
  • Calling the plan on the phone
  • Calling Medicare on 1-800-633-4227

If you have any questions, please call Joe Palacio at (949) 929-9908.

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