Can I apply for Medicare while incarcerated?
Yes! If you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare while incarcerated, you should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to enroll in Parts A and B. Unlike people who are not in custody, you will NOT be automatically enrolled—so you need to take action. Although Medicare won’t start paying for your health care until you’re released, it’s important to get enrolled as soon as you can. This way, you avoid getting charged penalties for late enrollment, and you also ensure that your Medicare is ready as soon as you’re out.
- When: Contact the SSA to get enrolled during the 7-month period surrounding your 65th birthday—the month of your birthday, plus 3 months before, and 3 months following. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period (“IEP”). Supposing that you turn 65 on April 10, 2015, your Initial Enrollment Period would run from January 1, 2015 through July 31, 2015. If you don’t enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period, you may not have access to health care for months after you’re released; and you may get charged penalties if you try to enroll in Medicare later.
- How: Send a signed and dated letter to the Social Security Administration. The letter should include your full name, Social Security Number, a clear statement that you want to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, and the date that your coverage should be effective. Make sure you sign the letter. Keep a copy of your letter and a copy of the envelope—and, if possible, send the letter by certified mail with return receipt.
If You Become Eligible for Medicare While Incarcerated,MedicareInteractive.org, http://www.medicareinteractive.org/page2.php?topic=counselor&page=script&script_id=1783. ↑