Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Your IEP is the first opportunity you have to enroll in Medicare. How it applies to you depends on the reason you qualify for Medicare:

  • If you’re joining Medicare because you are turning 65, your IEP is a 7-month period that begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month, includes your birthday month and continues for 3 full months afterward. For example, if your birthday is July 17, your IEP begins April 1st, and continues to the end of October. If your birthday falls on the first of any month, your IEP begins a month earlier. For example, if you were born on June 1, your IEP begins February 1 rather than March 1st, and continues until the end of August.
  • If you’re under the age of 65, and joining Medicare due to a qualifying disability, your 7-month IEP begins 3 months before your 25th month of receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, and continues for three months afterward, allowing you a total of 7 full months to enroll in Medicare coverage. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you ask to join a plan. If you join during one of the 3 months before you first get Medicare, your coverage will begin the first day of your 25th month of entitlement to disability payments.

For more information about your IEP, and rules that govern other important Medicare enrollment periods such as the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) and a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) , call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Return to the Medicare FAQ section to view more answers to other commonly asked questions about Medicare prescription drug coverage.