Many beneficiaries have spent years pursuing a career they love and aren’t ready to let it go. These beneficiaries may want to continue working and postpone their retirement past 65. However, healthcare options can become confusing if you don’t retire at 65 and become Medicare-eligible while working.

Becoming Medicare eligible while working: When to sign up?

  • You can (and should) enroll in Part A as soon as you’re eligible, regardless of your working status.
  • If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you’ll likely need to enroll in Part B.
  • Those enrolled in Part A who want prescription drug coverage – but can’t get it through their employer – can (and should) enroll in Part D.
  • A Medicare Advantage plan will replace your employer’s health plan and give you all Part A, B, and D benefits.

Enrollment in Medicare while working

You don’t have to retire to enroll in Medicare. The only eligibility requirements are to be at least 65 years old or have been collecting SSDI for at least 24 months. Whether you’re working or not is completely irrelevant regarding eligibility. When you become Medicare-eligible while working, several questions start to arise. Below we’ll review some common questions regarding starting Medicare while working.

Is Medicare required if I’m still working?

Medicare is not required; however, if you don’t take it when first eligible, you may have to pay penalties. If you plan to work past 65, you should first talk with your benefits manager. They will be able to let you know if you’re coverage is creditable to delay Medicare without accruing a penalty.

Should I Enroll in Part A if I’m Still Working?

Even if you have employer group coverage, you should still sign up for Part A. Part A will cost you nothing if you’ve worked for ten years. It’s premium-free! You’re essentially getting more coverage at no extra cost.

Should I Enroll in Part B if I’m Still Working?

Working beneficiaries must choose between staying on their employer’s plan or enrolling in Part B. Unlike Medicare Part A, Part B does have a small monthly premium.

If you actively work for a company with 20 or more employees, you can delay enrolling in Part B without penalty. If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you must enroll in Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid being penalized.

Remember that the 20-employee benchmark is more of a guideline than a rule. That’s why we recommend speaking with your group benefits administrator at your job.

Employer Coverage and Medicare Part B Work Together

Enrolling in Part B alongside your employer’s health plan is also an option. If you choose to obtain both health plans, Part B would be the primary payer for your coverage. Your secondary payer would be your employer. Again this is more of a guideline, the group coverage can be primary, and Medicare would pay secondary. If this occurs, there could be unexpected costs.

Enrolling in a Medicare plan can save money and have more comprehensive coverage. A licensed insurance agent can help ensure that this is the correct move. Prescription coverage works differently on Medicare, so reviewing all aspects is essential before deciding.

Should I Enroll in Part D if I’m Still Working?

Part D is the part of Medicare that provides coverage for prescription drugs. If your employer’s health plan offers coverage for prescription drugs, Part D may not be necessary for you. To avoid late enrollment penalties, talk to your benefits administrator to confirm your employer coverage is considered creditable under Medicare.

Should I Enroll in Medicare Advantage if I’m Still Working?

Medicare Advantage is a bundle of Medicare products that includes Part A, Part B, and Part D benefits. If you continue working and enroll in Medicare Advantage, remember that it will replace your employer’s coverage.

Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans have many additional dental and vision benefits. These plans may offer more coverage than your current employer. Identify the best coverage at the best price to determine which program you want.

Difference Between Active Employment vs. Retiree Benefits

There are different benefits beneficiaries can receive whether they’re actively working or deciding to retire. The main benefit that significantly impacts your healthcare plans is the enrollment period technicalities associated with both.

If you or your spouse actively work, your employer coverage does not come from retiree benefits or COBRA. You’re exempt from late enrollment and are assigned a Special Enrollment Period.

If you’re retired and enjoying employer benefits, that does not count as being actively employed. You’ll need to pay late enrollment penalties when you delay enrollment in Medicare.


When to sign up for Medicare if I’m still working?

This is a personal decision, and there isn’t a cut-and-dry answer. If your group coverage isn’t creditable, you should apply and start Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. The Medicare application should be completed three months before your 65th birth month.

What If my younger spouse needs health insurance and is covered by my employer plan?

If you have a younger spouse on your employer plan, you can review whether the savings on Medicare outweighs the cost of getting them an individual health insurance plan. Another thing to consider if you’re group coverage is creditable is to stay on your employer coverage and delay Medicare.

How long must I enroll in Medicare once my creditable coverage ends?

Medicare has an 8-month Special Enrollment Period to enroll in part B once you leave creditable group coverage. Remember that the enrollment period for Medicare Part D is only two months.

Can I enroll in Medicare if I’m not retired?

Yes, once you reach Medicare eligibility, you can enroll in Medicare. You should review the coverage options with your employer plan to ensure you choose the right coverage for your needs.

How to Get Help with Medicare Coverage While Still Working

Deciding whether or not to enroll in Medicare when still working can be overwhelming. Be sure to compare your employer-sponsored and Medicare benefits to obtain the best coverage.

If you’re unsure where to start, we can help. Our licensed agents can review your coverage to help you decide which route to take. Call us, or see what plans are available in your area using our rate form.

Written By:
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Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for She's been contributing to many well-known publications since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.
Reviewed By:
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Rodolfo Marrero, Rodolfo Marrero is one of the co-founders at He has been helping consumers find the right coverage since the site was founded in 2013. Rodolfo is a licensed insurance agent that works hand-in-hand with the team to ensure the accuracy of the content.