When Does Medicare Coverage Start?

When does Medicare coverage start? The short answer: when you sign up or when you are signed up. So let’s break down the conditions of signing up in this short round of FAQs.

When is general enrollment?

January 1 to March 31 of every year. Your coverage would begin on July 1.

At what age can Medicare coverage start?

Medicare coverage can start when you turn 65! The special enrollment period starts 3 months before your birth month, and continues 3 months after–a total of 7 months’ leeway.


  • Sign up before your birthday = coverage on your birthday month
  • Sign up during your birthday month = one-month delay
  • Sign up after your birthday month = 2-3 month delay

Are there any special conditions that allow early Medicare enrollment?

Yes! Some of these include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

For ALS, your Medicare enrollment is automatic, based on when your disability benefits begin. For ESRD, it starts when you show the need for either regular kidney dialysis, or after you’ve already had a kidney transplant.

Also, if you have been receiving disability benefits from Social Security for at least 24 months, you are qualified for early Medicare coverage.

Is it possible to get automatically enrolled in Medicare? What are the conditions?

First, if you are already getting benefits from Social Security at least 4 months before your birthday month, you will be automatically enrolled.

The same goes for if you’ve been receiving benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) for at least 4 months before your birthday month.

If you have been receiving disability benefits from Social Security or the RRB for 24 months,  you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare before your 25th month.

Don’t be Penalized!

To make the most of your Medicare benefits, enroll on time! Avoid a Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty. Even before you need it, think through how you can make the most of your benefits for the future.

James Donaldson

I like to blog about insurance, health and the great outdoors. Memphis born and raised.