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Special Election Periods

Special Election Periods - Main Content

Medicare Health plans for Individuals

Enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan (with or without Medicare Part D) or a Medicare Part D plan is limited to certain times outside of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). You can’t always sign up whenever you want, but you may qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP), which would allow you to enroll.

You may qualify if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were enrolled in another organization’s plan, but recently moved into a different service area.
  • You are Medicare-Medicaid eligible or you recently lost eligibility.
  • You qualify for Extra Help to pay for your prescription drug costs or you recently lost eligibility for Extra Help.
  • You will soon be enrolling in, are currently enrolled in or recently left an employer Group health plan.
  • You recently lost creditable prescription drug coverage.
  • You moved back to the United States after living outside the country.
  • You gained lawful presence status in the United States.

Many other events may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. For more information, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (toll-free) or 1-877-486-2048 (toll-free TTY for the hearing/speech impaired), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)

Retiring at age 65

If you plan to retire at 65, your initial Medicare enrollment window is a 7-month period (usually around your 65th birthday) that includes:

  • 3 months before you're first eligible for Medicare coverage.
  • the month you start to qualify for Medicare coverage.
  • 3 months after you start to qualify for Medicare coverage.

These 7 months typically also count as an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for part D (prescription drug) coverage. This means you can sign up for a Medicare Advantahe plan with Part D.

Retiring after 65

If you plan to retire after 65, you can enroll in Part A and/or Part B during a 8-month period that begins the month after the employer or union group health plan coverage ends or when the employment ends (which ever is first).

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield contracts with the Federal Government and is an HMO plan and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal. Submit a complaint about your Medicare plan at or learn about filing a complaint by contacting the Medicare Ombudsman. Y0028_5994_C.

This page last updated 10-01-2019.