If you plan to retire by age 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B, then you have a 6-month Medicare Supplement (Medigap) enrollment period starting on the first day of your birthday month. But what if you plan to continue working after your 65th birthday? Will you be eligible for a Medigap policy once you retire?
If You Retire After Age 65 Can You Get a Medicare Supplement Policy?
To be clear, you can potentially get a Medigap policy at any age as long as you have Medicare Part B and are at least 65 years old. What we're really asking is whether you'll have an open enrollment and be able to avoid underwriting. In other words, are you guaranteed to get a Medigap policy without any late enrollment penalty?
The key to answering this question is whether or not you've enrolled in Part B. Remember, your Medicare Supplement open enrollment period starts the first day of the month in which you are 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B. So the simple answer is: yes, you will have an open enrollment for Medigap if you wait to retire until after age 65, so long as you also waited to enroll in Medicare Part B.
On the other hand, if you enrolled in Medicare Part B when you turned 65 but while you were still working, you triggered your Open Enrollment Period.
Should You Wait to Enroll in Medicare Part B?
The main reason someone might decide to not enroll in Medicare Part B when they turn 65 is that either they or their spouse is still working and the employer provides group health coverage. If the health plan through work already covers everything you'd get through a Medigap plan, it doesn't make much sense to switch over. Luckily, the Medicare rules take this into account and provide a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B in this scenario.
If you've delayed enrolling in Medicare Part B because you have coverage through work, your Medicare Part B Special Enrollment Period is the 8-month period after you leave your employment or the work coverage ends (whichever comes first). If you enroll during this Special Enrollment Period, you won't pay any late enrollment penalties.
Enrolling in Medicare Part B at this time will trigger a Medigap Open Enrollment Period for you, regardless of whether you're well over the typical age 65 open enrollment.