Liz Weston: Does a 65-year-old employee need to join Medicare now to avoid penalties?


Dear Liz: I’m 65, still working and have medical health insurance through my employer. I even have not enrolled for Medicare and have been told I don’t must. I plan to once I retire. There may be a passage in my Social Security statement that claims, “Because you might be already 65 or older, you must contact Social Security to enroll in Medicare. Chances are you’ll be subject to a lifetime late enrollment penalty. Special rules may apply in the event you are covered by certain group health plans through work.”

I even have tried to research further through the Medicare website but can’t find a transparent answer about whether or not I’m OK not enrolling presently.

Answer: In case your employer has 20 or more employees, you then’re tremendous for now. Whenever you stop working for that employer, you’ll have eight months to join Medicare without owing penalties.

If you happen to want your Medicare coverage to start out when your job-based coverage ends, though, you must join a month before you retire. Similar rules would apply in the event you were covered by a spouse’s workplace medical health insurance plan. So long as your spouse remains to be working for the employer that gives the coverage, you possibly can avoid everlasting Medicare penalties.

In case your employer has fewer than 20 employees, nonetheless, you could be required to join Medicare once you’re first eligible. Check along with your employer.

Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a private finance columnist for NerdWallet. Questions could also be sent to her at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or through the use of the “Contact” form at


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