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Medicare Basics

When to Enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan

You have three different periods to enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan:

Initial Enrollment Period

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) occurs when you turn 65 and lasts for seven months. It begins three months before your birth month and extends through the three months following your birth month.

When you’re under 65 and disabled: Your Medicare coverage begins 24 months after you receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits. You can sign up for Medicare Part D starting three months before your 25th month of getting these disability benefits, during the 25th month, or three months after the 25th month you received these benefits.

The Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period

From October 15 through December 7, you are able to make changes your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. You are also able to join or change to a Medicare Advantage Plan with or without prescription drug coverage. You can add, drop, or change prescription drug plans during this annual enrollment period. If you are not satisfied with your prescription drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plan, you can drop it completely during this period without any stipulations or restrictions.

Special Enrollment Period

There are Special Enrollment Periods for people with extenuating circumstances, when changes can be made to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans outside of the aforementioned enrollment periods. There are different rules about when you can make these changes and what changes can be made. Please go to Medicare.gov for more information on Special Enrollment Periods.