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You become eligible for Medicare coverage at age 65 (three months before your 65th birthday to three months after). If you don't enroll, you must wait until the general enrollment period which is January 1 to March 31 each year.

Why is it important to enroll by March 31?

If you are over 65 and miss the March 31 deadline, you must wait until next year to enroll, and coverage would not be effective until the following July 1st. Medicare also assesses a penalty of 10 percent of the cost of Part B coverage for each year that you are over age 65.

You should apply for Medicare as soon as you are eligible. If you apply within three months prior to your 65th birthday your coverage will begin on the first day of the month that you turn 65.

Your Medicare coverage is always primary and your LACERA plan coverage is secondary for payment of both hospital and medical services.

For Medicare eligibility information, contact the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

  • Visit the Medicare website at
  • Call Medicare at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
  • Read Medicare & You, a booklet mailed to Medicare recipients every fall by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Read the Medicare basic information booklet provided by the Social Security Administration.

To apply for Medicare:

  • Visit your local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office or
  • Go online
  • Call the National 800 SSA Number at 800-772-1213

Resources and information relating to Medicare premiums for higher income beneficiaries