As of 2018, more than 15% of all same-sex couple households in the U.S. were of those age 65 and over.1 And it was in 2015 that a Supreme Court decision ruled that married same-sex couples can qualify for Medicare in the same manner as opposite-sex married couples.
So with that in mind, how does Medicare eligibility apply to same-sex couples?
The short answer is that the eligibility is no different than it is for opposite-sex couples, provided that the partners are legally married.
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Below is an overview of Medicare’s eligibility rules surrounding married couples, common-law marriages and domestic partners.
If you and your spouse are both at least 65 years old and have been married for at least one year, each person will qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A as long as one of the individuals has accumulated 40 quarters (10 years) of working and paying Medicare taxes.
Each person would then also have the option of enrolling in Medicare Part B, Part C (Medicare Advantage), Part D or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan at their respective premiums.
If you and your partner live in a state that recognizes common-law marriages and your relationship qualifies as a common-law marriage under your state’s definition, Medicare will consider you to be legally married and the eligibility of you and your partner will be the same as that for married spouses described above.
Medicare eligibility does not extend to domestic partners.
You must be either legally married or recognized as married under common-law marriage definitions in order for one partner to qualify for Medicare based on another partner’s age and work history.
If you are at least 65 years old but have not accumulated 40 quarters of paying Medicare taxes, you would have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A.
However, if your partner is at least 62 years old and has accumulated at least 40 quarters of paying Medicare taxes, you may qualify for premium-free Part A based on your spouse’s employment history.
If you have questions about Medicare eligibility for you or your partner, we have the answers. Call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.
You can also compare private Medicare plans online to find a plan available in your area that may offer the benefits you need.
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1 U.S. Census Bureau. Characteristics of Same-Sex Couple Households: 2005 to Present. Retrieved Aug. 26, 2020 from www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/same-sex-couples/ssc-house-characteristics.html.