Some Medicare Beneficiaries Can Get Extra Time to Enroll in Coverage

Some people who had problems enrolling in Medicare this year can get extra time to enroll!  People who had problems contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to submit enrollment requests after January 1, 2022, because of problems with SSA’s telephone system, can seek “equitable relief” from now until December 30, 2022.  The equitable relief process will allow someone to request that SSA not apply the normal Medicare enrollment rules because of their specific situation.

This limited equitable relief is available to people who:

  • Were eligible to sign up for Medicare between January 1, 2022, and December 30, 2022, and were unable to enroll because of problems with Social Security’s telephone system,
  • Haven’t signed up for Medicare yet, and
  • Sign up for Medicare by December 30, 2022.

People seeking to enroll under this limited equitable relief period must state that they tried to call or fax SSA and encountered problems. They should explain the problems they had – for example, that they couldn’t get through to the office or that their call was cut off – and provide as much detail as possible. They do not have to explain why they did not try to use online options to enroll.  Requests to enroll under this limited equitable relief period will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

People who missed their opportunity to enroll during their Initial Enrollment Period, the General Enrollment Period (January 1st – March 31st), or a Special Enrollment Period after January 1, 2022, can sign up for Medicare without the delay counting toward a late enrollment penalty so long as they do so by December 30, 2022.  The coverage start date will depend on the enrollment period the person missed.  If someone missed signing up during the General Enrollment Period, for example, but later enrolls, coverage can start as early as July 1, 2022.  For people who missed enrolling during their Initial Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period, coverage can start either the month after enrollment, or as early as the month coverage should have started, had the person not missed their enrollment period.   Anyone who chooses a retroactive start date for their coverage will have to pay premiums for the months of past coverage. 

More information can be found on here and in Social Security guidance here.  We encourage readers who have questions about this extra time to enroll or who need help enrolling to call PA MEDI at 1-800-783-7067.

Social Security Offices Reopen to the Public

Local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and are now also open to people without appointments as of April 7th.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) continues to encourage people to use online services, to contact SSA by phone, or to schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in to avoid long wait times.  People visiting SSA offices in person are required to wear a mask in the office and must complete a self-assessment checklist for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure before entering the office.