The Age at Which You May Qualify for Medicare

The age at which people traditionally qualify for Medicare is 65 years old, although some people with certain disabilities or medical conditions may qualify for Medicare before age 65.

Below is a summary of Medicare eligibility at different ages and in various circumstances.

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Getting Medicare at age 65

For people without a qualifying disability, eligibility for Medicare Part A requires each of the following:

  • You are at least 65 years old.

  • You are a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident having lived in the U.S. for at least five years.

  • You are eligible to receive Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.

If you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years), you will be eligible for premium-free Part A. If you paid Social Security taxes for fewer than 40 quarters, you can still be eligible for Medicare Part A, but you will have to pay a monthly premium.

You may also become eligible for Medicare because of your spouse’s health care coverage. If you are at least 65 years old and married to someone at least 62 years old who has worked and paid Social Security taxes for 40 quarters, you may qualify for Medicare as their dependent, even if you do not qualify for Medicare on your own.

Enrolling in Medicare Part B at age 65 requires enrollment in Medicare Part A. Enrolling in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) requires enrollment in both Medicare Part A and Part B (a combination referred to as Original Medicare).

Qualifying for Medicare under age 65

Those who are not yet 65 years old but have a qualifying disability can still receive Medicare benefits. In order to do so, you must have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. Your Medicare eligibility would then begin with the 25th month of receiving Social Security benefits.

If you have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you qualify for Medicare immediately upon becoming eligible for disability benefits.

There may be a limited availability of Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans for people under 65 in many states.

Medicare for children

The minimum age at which you can collect Social Security disability benefits is 18. But under the following circumstances, children under the age of 18 can be eligible for Medicare.

  • The child has End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

  • The parent or legal guardian of the child has ESRD requiring dialysis or a transplant and is receiving Social Security disability benefits. The child may qualify for Medicare benefits as a dependent.

Enrolling in Medicare

If you are eligible for Medicare based on any of the above scenarios, it’s time to get enrolled. You should receive a packet of information in the mail either a few months before your 65th birthday or just prior to your 25th month of collecting disability benefits.

If you believe you are eligible for Medicare but have not yet received anything in the mail, you can get started signing up for Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227 or 1-877-486-2048 for TTY users).

For information on Medicare Advantage plans that may be available where you live and to find out how to enroll, speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult

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