Medicare Answers: Enrolling in Part B Without a Penalty?

  • Originally published June 16, 2014 , last updated December 23, 2014
  • Medicare
Medicare Answers: Enrolling in Part B Without a Penalty?

This week’s Medicare Answers addresses whether a couple currently enrolled in Part A can enroll in Part B without having to pay a penalty. If you have a Medicare question, leave it in the comments section below, or email

Rhys asks:

My husband is 69 years of age. I will be 67 very soon. We are both enrolled in Medicare Part A and have not enrolled in Part B. My husband is retired from the federal government (Internal Revenue Service). We have Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program insurance in addition to Medicare Part A. If we wanted to enroll in Medicare Part B, would we be subject to the 10-percent penalty on future premiums?


Having just gone through this very thing, I am quite familiar with the procedure. First of all, if both of you have been on the Group Insurance, you will not be penalized, although you must complete CMS Form L564 (4/10), which can be downloaded at This form is used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain information from employers regarding whether a Medicare beneficiary’s coverage under a group health plan is based on current employment status. There are approximately 15,000 applicants annually who use form CMS-L564. It takes an applicant on average five minutes to complete Section A of the CMS-L564. It will take your employer about 15 minutes.

The Social Security Administration uses this information to determine whether an individual meets the requirements for a special enrollment period or late enrollment penalty reduction.

You must go in to the SSA office with the completed form from your employer. That’s all you have to do. It is painless, but you do have to go into the office and wait your turn. Medicare questions are usually the shorter lines.