Medicare Part B


Q. I was born in 1946 and I receive a retirement annuity now but I do not know when I can apply for Medicare Part B?  Can I delay applying for part B because I will out of country for six months?

A. If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled unless you decline that coverage. If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits, there is an initial enrollment period that begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after that month. If you don’t enroll during that window of opportunity, you can sign up during any open enrollment period. A general open enrollment period is held between Jan. 1 and March 31 every year. However, if you do that, your coverage won’t begin until the following July and your premium will be 10 percent higher than it would be if you had signed up during the initial enrollment period. And for every year you delay enrolling, the premium will increase by 10 percent.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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