When enrolling in Medicare, there are deadlines you’ll want to keep in mind so you can avoid any late penalties and fees. There are different parts of Medicare that have deadlines including Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Original Medicare.

When you turn 65, you’ll have an initial enrollment period that lasts for seven months – three months before your birthday through the three months after your birthday. It’s during this time that you’ll want to enroll in Medicare Parts A or B if you are retired or not working, do not have health insurance from an employer or your spouse does not have coverage.

Those who are already receiving Social Security benefits before they turned 65 do not need to apply for Medicare as a card will be mail and coverage starts on the first day of your birthday month.

If you missed your initial enrollment slot, then you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period, between January 1 and March 31 every year with coverage beginning July 1. However, you may be subject to a higher premium for late enrollment if you sign up during this time.

Beneficiaries with drug coverage through another health plan are not required to sign up for a Part D plan when they turn 65 as long as Medicare considers it of equal value to Part D. Those who have a plan through a current or former employer, union, COBRA or Veterans Affairs and lose it will have a two-month period to enroll in prescription drug coverage through Medicare without facing a penalty. Those who voluntarily drop drug coverage must wait until Medicare’s open enrollment period that runs from October 15 through December 7 each year.