When to Enroll in Medicare Part D Plans


When can you enroll in a Medicare Part D plan?

Medicare has specific enrollment periods for Part D enrollment. It is important to understand the various Medicare Part D enrollment periods. Review them carefully so you don’t miss the enrollment period that applies to you.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)


Every year, the AEP begins October 15th and ends December 7th for Medicare-eligible people to enroll in a plan that works best for them. Coverage begins January 1st of the following year.

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)1


Your IEP for enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is a 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

If you're under 65 you are eligible to enroll in Medicare if you have a qualifying disability. You will have a 7-month enrollment window that opens 3 months before your 25th month of receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits and ends 3 months afterwards.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)


The Special Enrollment Period allows you to join, switch or drop a Medicare prescription drug plan if any of these circumstances apply to you:

  • You recently returned to the United States after living permanently outside of the U.S.
  • You have both Medicare and Medicaid, or your state helps pay for your Medicare premiums.
  • You no longer qualify for Extra Help paying for your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
  • You recently involuntarily lost your creditable prescription drug coverage (as good as Medicare’s).
  • You get Extra Help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage but do not have Medicaid.
  • In the last 12 months, you left a Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage for the first time.
  • In the last 12 months, you turned 65 and joined a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage.
  • You are leaving/losing/joining an employer or union.
  • You belong to a Pharmacy Assistance Program provided by your state.
  • You are losing or lost your participation in a Pharmacy Assistance Program provided by your state.
  • You recently moved outside the service area for your current plan, or you recently moved and this plan is a new option for you.
  • You are disenrolling from a Medicare cost plan that you had prescription drug coverage from.
  • You are being disenrolled from a Medicare Special Needs Plan (SNP) because you no longer have special needs status.
  • Your plan is ending its contract with Medicare, or Medicare is ending its contract with your plan.
  • You recently left a PACE program (Program of all inclusive care for the elderly.)
  • You live in, are moving into, or recently moved out of a nursing home or Long-term Care Facility.
  • You are disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage Plan between January 1 and February 14 of any year to enroll in original Medicare.

The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) reasons listed above are examples, and do not include every situation that may qualify for a SEP enrollment. Your eligibility for a SEP does not convey eligibility to enroll in the plan; in addition to having a valid enrollment period an individual must also meet all applicable Part D eligibility criteria. For more information about SEP reasons, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users call 711, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Ready to Enroll Online


Medicare Part D Enrollment Reminder: If you receive Extra Help from Medicare to help pay for your prescription drug coverage, you may enroll in Medicare Part D plans at any time. This includes joining, changing or dropping a Medicare prescription drug plan.

1If you do not enroll when you first become eligible for Medicare, your next opportunity to enroll would be during the Annual Enrollment Period, starting October 15 and ending December 7 of each year, unless special circumstances qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. Generally, you are eligible to enroll in a Part D plan when you are entitled to Medicare Part A or enrolled in Medicare Part B. Individuals eligible for Medicare have an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Part D that is the same as the IEP for Part B. The IEP for Part B is the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month an eligible Medicare beneficiary turns 65 and ends 3 months after the month the individual turns 65. There is an exception: if 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.