A Special Enrollment Period is a period of time when an individual can join or switch Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period (also called the OEP or Annual Election Period or AEP). The annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans begins each year on October 15th and continues through December 7th – with coverage beginning January 1st of the next year.
If you (or your spouse) are still working, you may have a chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. If you didn’t sign up for Part B (or Part A if you have to buy it) when you were first eligible because you’re covered under a group health plan based on current employment (your own, a spouse’s, or if you’re disabled, a family member’s), you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B: ■ Anytime you’re still covered by the group health plan ■ During the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first 24 Section 2—Signing Up for Medicare Part A and Part B Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period. This Special Enrollment Period doesn’t apply to people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Note: If you’re disabled, the employer offering the group health plan must have 100 or more employees to get a Special Enrollment Period.