Once you sign up for Medicare, you don’t have to sign up each year, but you can make changes to your current plan. A prescription drug plan is one of the most important changes that you may make to your current Medicare plan. It is important to understand when you can sign up or change these plans so you can plan ahead and get the coverage you need.

When Can I Join a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug PlanWhen you decide how to get your Medicare coverage, you might choose a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). Each year there are specific time periods where you have a chance to review your coverage and change plans. These time periods are based on individual eligibility.

When you turn 65: You have the option to sign up for Part D Prescription Drug Plan when you are initially eligible for Medicare by turning 65. This eligibility period is a 7-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month of your birthday, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

If you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits: If you are eligible for disability benefits, you are also eligible for Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can sign up for coverage once you have been on Social Security or RRS benefits for two years.

General Enrollment Periods: Each year, there are two general enrollment periods when anyone who is enrolled in Medicare Part A or B can sign up for a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The first period begins in April and continues through June. The second open enrollment is in October and continues through the first week of December. This is the easiest time to plan for coverage and change your enrollment options.

During this time, you have the option to change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or vice versa. You can also switch Medicare Advantage Plans and join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

It is important to have the coverage and the benefit plan that best fits your budgets and your needs. To sign up, add, change, or drop coverage, you need to talk with a qualified representative so you can be prepared for these important time periods each year.