How Old Do You Have to Be for Medicare?

If you’ve ever heard of Medicare, you might be wondering how old you have to be to sign up. Medicare is usually for people 65 years old and older.

However, you might qualify for Medicare if you are younger and have certain disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease.

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Medicare requirements

Of course, being 65 years old or having a disability isn’t the only requirement you’ll need to meet to receive Medicare benefits. If you are 65 years old (or turning 65 in the next three months), you must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident who has lived in the United States for at least five years
  • Have worked long enough (or your spouse has worked long enough) to be eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits; or
  • Be a government employee (or your spouse must be a government employee) or retiree who has not paid into Social Security but has paid Medicare payroll taxes

If you are not 65 years old, you must:

  • Have received to Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months
  • Received certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for at least 24 months
  • Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Medicare enrollment

If you’re already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare. If you are automatically enrolled, you will receive your red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday.

If you’re disabled, you’ll be automatically enrolled in time for your 25th month of disability. If you have ALS, your Medicare coverage begins the same month as your disability benefits.

If you have ESRD, you’ll need to manually enroll.

If you are not automatically enrolled, you will need to sign up for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), as well as decide if you will be enrolling in Part C (Medicare Advantage) or a Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in your area and find a plan that fits your coverage needs and your budget.


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