Medicare and Delaying Your Retirement

How to handle your Medicare enrollment if you work past age 65

Not everyone is ready to retire at 65. If you plan to keep working, you may be able to delay your Medicare enrollment. Our Quick Start Guide to Medicare has easy explanations of when and how you can enroll:

Can I delay Medicare enrollment?

Possibly. If you meet the following conditions, you might qualify for a special enrollment period that allows you to delay Medicare without paying a penalty.

  • You have health insurance coverage from your current employer
  • You are currently covered by a spouse’s employer plan

Taking Medicare before retirement

If any of the items below describe your current situation, you may still be required to take full Medicare benefits at age 65 – even if you plan to keep working.

fewer than 20 employees icon

If your employer has fewer than 20 employees.

spouses plan requires Medicare for any dependents icon

Your spouse’s plan requires Medicare coverage for any dependents who are eligible for Medicare.

Medicare health plan book icon

If you have coverage through COBRA or a retiree health plan.

In any of these cases, you will need to enroll during your initial enrollment period (IEP) to avoid paying late-enrollment penalties. Talk to an agent if you have any questions regarding your personal situation.

Special enrollment periods and how they work

If you do qualify for a special enrollment period based on current employment, you can enroll without penalty during the following times:

  • Any month while you remain covered under the group health plan that is provided by your employer or your spouse’s employer
  • During the eight-month period that begins the month you end employment OR after losing your employer group health plan coverage, whichever comes first.

Remember, you can always decide to enroll in Medicare even though you plan to keep working. In this case, enrolling during your IEP is the best option.

Other things to consider:

Medicare Part A hospital icon

Consider enrolling in Part A only
You usually won’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A, so you could enroll in Part A while still working and delay Part B. If you have a health savings account (HSA), however, you are not allowed to make contributions to your HSA once you are enrolled in any part of Medicare.

Medicare Part D doctor icon

Compare your existing drug coverage to Medicare Part D
Before deciding to delay Medicare enrollment, compare your employer’s drug coverage to the standard Medicare Part D plan.

  • If your group coverage is equal to or better than standard Medicare Part D
    It meets the minimum qualifications for delaying Medicare enrollment. You can continue to use this plan and delay your Medicare Part D enrollment without penalty.
  • If your current plan does not offer coverage that is equal to or better than Part D
    You must enroll in a Part D plan during your IEP to avoid a penalty. This would also mean that you have to enroll in Part A or Part B – which is required to purchase a Part D plan.

Alert Social Security if you receive benefits

If you delay Medicare enrollment, you don’t need to provide notice unless you receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. If you do receive either of these benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. You’ll need to contact Social Security and let them know that you wish to delay Part B. You must have Medicare Part A, however, if you receive Social Security benefits.

How to contact Social Security
If you don’t receive an enrollment notice three months before your 65th birthday, call the Social Security Administration:

Didn't receive an enrollment notice? Contact Social Security

If you don’t receive an enrollment notice three months before your 65th birthday, call the Social Security Administration:

(TTY: 1-800-325-0778)

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Automated phone services
available 24 hours a day,
seven days a week.

You can also apply for Medicare using the Social Security Administration’s online form.

Questions or Ready to Apply?

Talk to an agent or call 800‑280‑2583 TTY 771 
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Not sure which Medicare option is right for you?