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The Medicare benefits application process is quite lengthy, and the best advice is to begin gathering information on the application process, benefits, and coverage specifics at least several months before your eligibility date. In this way, the information can be carefully studied, and questions answered to ensure your benefits are not delayed. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, publishes a "Medicare & You" guide each year that explains the program. It includes information about any changes to the plan, what is covered and what is not, how to pick a plan that is right for your needs, and a lot of other useful topics. You can request a copy of the guide by calling (800) 633-4227 or by visiting www.medicare.gov. You can also use the Medicare Personal Plan Finder, which guides you through a simple set of questions ultimately displaying a list of plans for which you are eligible.