UNITED STATES—Toni, I have a quite different Medicare problem concerning how to enroll in Medicare than any enrollment problem that I have read in your Medicare column. I understand from an email a friend received from Medicare.gov that starting January 1, there are new turning 65 Medicare enrollment rules.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and my prescriptions are expensive. I turn 65 on February 20 and need my Medicare to begin May 1. My husband is retiring and losing his company benefits effective May 1.

I am a non-working spouse and do not have enough work quarters to receive Medicare on my own. I do not know how to apply using my husband’s Medicare benefits. What do I do? Mary Ann, Oakland, CA.

Mary Ann: It is so especially important to plan to be sure that you are enrolling in Medicare correctly. (Chapter 1 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition explains enrolling in Medicare in detail.)

Mary Ann because you are short the 40 quarters of working and paying taxes to qualify under your Social Security number for your Medicare, you will have to qualify under your husband’s Social Security number for your Medicare to begin if he has the 40 quarters to qualify.

Call your local Social Security office or Social Security’s main 800 # at 1/800-772-1213 to arrange an appointment either over the phone or at a local Social Security office and ask how to apply under your husband’s work record. You will need an “original” certified marriage license to show Social Security that you are currently married.

Set up a www.ssa.gov account prior to talking with a Social Security representative. Social Security may want you to enroll in Medicare online by visiting www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare or go online and enroll in Medicare when talking with the representative that is guiding you through this process. With you being short 40 work quarters, the process is a little bit complicated, than when someone is turning 65 and applying using their own benefits.

On November 17,2022, Medicare did send out an email saying that there are changes to enrolling in Medicare when turning 65 beginning January 1, 2023. Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the 7-month period which occurs 3 months before turning 65, the month you turn 65 and 3 months after turning 65.

Below is a summary of the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period 7-month timeline schedule:

  • If enrolling anytime 3 months before turning 65, your Medicare begins the first day of the month you turn 65. Since you, Mary Ann will turn 65 on February 20, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B in November, December, or January (3 months prior) for a February 1st effective date.
  • If enrolling the month, you turn 65, then Medicare will begin the 1st of the next month. Mary Ann, you can enroll in February; and your Medicare will begin March 1st.
  • If enrolling 1 month after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin 1st of the next month. Mary Ann enrolls in March; her Medicare begins April 1st.  
  • If enrolling 2 months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin the next month. Mary Ann enrolls in April; her Medicare will begin May1st 
  • If enrolling 3 months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin the next month. Mary Ann enrolls in May (3 months after the month you turn 65); her Medicare will begin June 1st.

Mary Ann, since you want your Medicare to begin May 1st, I would advise you to enroll in Medicare in April and that is when you would want to schedule your appointment with Social Security to explain your enrollment situation of not having enough quarters.

Visit www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to Toni’s Medicare Moments podcast. Email Medicare questions to info@tonisays.com or call 832/519-8664.