How Do You Apply for Medicare Benefits?

Apply for Medicare benefits online at, the website of the Social Security Administration. Alternatively, apply by phone or in person at a local Social Security office. Those applying outside the United States can contact a U.S. embassy or consulate.

To apply for Medicare online, go to the main page, select Benefits in the toolbar at the top of the page, click on Medicare, and then click on Apply for Medicare Only. Review the application requirements, be sure you have all the information you need to get started, click on Start a New Application, and fill in the online form. To find the phone number for a Medicare application, scroll down the How to Apply Online for Just Medicare page, and click on Other Medicare Registration/Enrollment Options. Find a local Social Security office to apply in person by entering your ZIP code in the Social Security office locator on the Social Security Administration website.

People are eligible to sign up for Medicare during a seven-month window that includes the three months before their 65th birthdays, the month of the birthday and three months after. Those who enroll late usually have to pay a higher premium unless membership in a group health plan during current employment qualifies them for a later special enrollment period. People who are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits are enrolled in Medicare automatically and do not have to submit applications.