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New to Medicare

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Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, or certain younger people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Medicare Eligibility & Enrollment

Medicare is a health insurance program for:

  • People 65 years of age and older.
  • The disabled—those under age 65 who have received Social Security or Railroad Retiree disability benefits for 24 consecutive months. Click the link below to download our factsheet, or call SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 1-800-735-2942) to request that it be sent to you.
  • Those with a diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
  • People with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant).

To be eligible for Medicare, a person must be a US citizen and resident of the U.S. or an alien living in the U.S. for five years who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

I am turning 65 but will continue to work. Should I sign up for Medicare Part B?

You may be able to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B without penalty if you or your spouse continue to be actively employed and are covered by the employer’s group health plan. In this situation you can enroll in Medicare Part B during a special eight-month enrollment period when you retire (whether you keep employer-sponsored retiree insurance coverage or not). The Social Security Administration determines when you are eligible to enroll in Medicare. Call their toll-free number, 800-772-1213, with your specific questions. Ask Social Security to send information about your situation in writing. Keep this information on file.

If you’re 65 or older, you or your spouse are employed and the employer has 20 or more employees, you must be offered the same health insurance benefits under the same conditions offered to younger workers and spouses. [Note: If you’re eligible for Medicare because of a disability, there must be at least 100 employees.] The employer cannot provide a Medicare supplement insurance policy instead of regular group coverage.

Employers with fewer than 20 employees (100 if disabled) are not required to offer health insurance coverage to employees over age 65. However, the employer may choose to do so.

Call SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 1-800-735-2942) or e-mail us at, for answers to other questions regarding Medicare and health insurance when you are employed past age 65

I am 62 years old. Can I sign up for Medicare since I am now receiving my Social Security benefits?

No, you will be eligible for Medicare when you are 65. Since you are currently receiving Social Security benefits the Social Security office will automatically enroll you in Medicare and send you a Medicare card shortly before you turn 65.

What You Need To Know Guide

Health insurance is often confusing. Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage probably add to the confusion. We've created an easy-to-read guide to help you navigate through these issues. If you are like everyone else, you have received mountains of information on Medicare and other health insurance options. The information in this publication can help you sort through important information as you work toward a decision. Click the link below to view and download it now.

After you have read through the guide, you may want additional information and we can help! SHIIP–SMP has dedicated volunteer counselors trained and certified to personally assist you in evaluating your options. We can answer your questions about Medicare and other insurance choices. Call 1-800-351-4664, (TTY 1-800-735-2942) or click the link below to find a SHIIP–SMP volunteer near you.