When should I apply for Medicare Part D coverage?

When applying for Medicare Part D coverage, remember that timing is important.

  • If you are applying for Medicare Part D because you’re turning 65, your first opportunity to enroll is your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP is the 7-month period that begins three months before your 65th birthday month, includes your 65th birthday month and continues three months after1.

    If you have other ‘creditable’ drug coverage (as good as Medicare’s), you may keep it and postpone signing up for Part D coverage until you no longer have it.

    If you do not have creditable coverage, and wait more than 63 days past the last day of your IEP to enroll, you may be subject to the Part D Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP) which is an additional dollar amount added to your Part D premium for as long as you have it. If you receive a Low Income Subsidy such as Extra Help, the Late Enrollment Penalty may not apply to you. Visit Medicare.gov for more information.

  • If you are applying for Medicare Part D because you have a qualifying disability, you may enroll in a Medicare Part D plan during the 7-month period that starts 3 months before your 25th month of getting Social Security or Railroad Benefits RRB disability benefits and ends 3 months after your 25th month of getting disability benefits.

    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.

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

1If your birthday falls on the first of any month, your 7-month IEP begins and ends one month sooner. For example, if your birthday is July 1, your 7-month IEP is the same as if you were born in June - beginning in March and ending in September.