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If you are over 65, have an employer plan, and want to enroll in Medicare Part B, you will need to verify with Social Security that you have had "creditable coverage" with a medical plan as well as a drug plan.

Your HR department can tell you if you do have creditable health and drug plans. If your plans are not creditable you could be subject to fines for both Part Band Part D when you enroll in Medicare. It's unusual to find a plan that is not creditable.

We advise that if you know when you are leaving your employer plan, then you can put a strategy into place for activating Medicare. It's a good idea to start at least 2 months prior to leaving your company plan. But if you are suddenly laid off or terminated, it necessitates you move even faster.

Let's say you are planning to end your employer plan on Nov 30. Between the beginning of September and mid-October, this is what you need to do:

Take the attached form 0MB No.0938-0787 Request For Employment Information to your HR department and have them list your start and end dates for the employer coverage.

Go to a Social Security office with that form and this one: 0MB 0938-1230 Application For Enrollment in Medicare Part B. And apply for Part B.

What' s next? It takes 2-3 weeks to get your Part B application approved. Once approved Social Security will send you a letter stating your Medicare claim number- usually your Social Security number followed by one or two letters- and your start dates for Parts A and B. After you get the letter, we can enroll you in a plan. In most cases your Medicare card will arrive after the letter. All we need is the letter as proof of Medicare coverage for plan enrollment.