Many years ago, the preferred way to enroll in Medicare was to visit the local Social Security office. Then came enrolling by phone, adding convenience. Make an appointment and enroll, sitting at your desk or kitchen table.
As with everything from registering for classes to buying a car, there is now online enrollment. From its inception, Social Security touted the benefits. You can start the application immediately, in the comfort of your home, and avoid the trip to a local office. Because of the COVID pandemic, online enrollment has essentially been the only option for the last year.
In a previous post, I shared the horror story of a client who put off enrollment until the last minute. Then she ran into a roadblock trying to set up a my Social Security account. She missed her window and ended up in a late enrollment situation.
To avoid problems, those getting ready to enroll should have a my Social Security account. To create an account, you’ll be asked to:
- Verify your identity by providing personal information.
- Create a username and password.
- Confirm your email address or phone number by entering a one-time security code.
Sounds simple. In fact, Social Security says “Creating a free my Social Security account takes less than 10 minutes…”
When I created my account years ago, that’s the process I followed. But it’s not that simple any more because some things have changed in the interim.
In mid-March, I helped a relative set up an account. After he entered personal information, he got an email that read, “You successfully started the process of creating an online account with the Social Security Administration. You will get your activation code at the address you gave us within the next 5-10 business days. You can use this code to create your username and password.” It would take up to 10 days, not 10 minutes, to create his account and be able to use it for enrollment or other purposes.
- If you don’t have a my Social Security account yet, create one now, even if Medicare is not in your immediate future. The account gives you secure access to information based on your earnings history. You can check your Social Security statement, estimate future benefits, change your address, and more.
- If you have an account, confirm that you can access it. Follow the instructions for retrieving your username or changing your password. You want to make sure the account is good to go when you’re ready to enroll in Medicare.