Medicare Age Limits

You may be surprised to know that Medicare coverage is not limited to those ages 65 years and older. People with certain disabilities and End Stage Renal Disease may also qualify, even if they are younger than 65. Learn more about the Medicare eligibility requirements below.

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Original Medicare

The Social Security Administration advises that you call (800) 772-1213 three months before you turn 65 to enroll in Original Medicare. This is when your initial enrollment period begins. Your initial enrollment period lasts seven months and includes the three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and three months after your 65th birthday.

  • If you’re turning 65 years old and are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. If you aren’t already receiving benefits, you’ll need to manually enroll. The best time to do so is during your IEP.
  • If you are younger than 65 and receive Social Security Disability benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare after your 24th month of receiving benefits. If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), there’s no 24-month waiting period.
    • If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you’ll need to manually enroll.

Medicare Part A enrollment eligibility

If you’re 65 years or older and are a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., you’re likely eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). There’s no premium for Part A if you’ve paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years (40 quarters) while working.

Medicare Part A covers: 

  • Hospital care
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Limited home health services
  • Hospice care

Medicare Part B enrollment eligibility

To enroll in optional Medicare Part B, you'll likely have to pay a premium. Keep in mind, however, that you may have to pay more for your Part B premium if you decide not to enroll when you’re first eligible and decide to sign up later.

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers:

  • Services and supplies needed to diagnose or treat an illness or condition that meet accepted standards of medical practice
  • Services to prevent or detect an illness or a condition at an early stage

Signing up for Original Medicare

You have several options for how to sign up for your Medicare benefits, including:

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare through which you receive your Part A and Part B benefits from a private insurance company.** Many Medicare Advantage plans also provide additional benefits, such as dental, vision care and prescription drug coverage. Like Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans can leave certain out-of-pocket costs to you, including coinsurance, copayments and deductibles.

Signing up 

To enroll in Medicare Advantage you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your initial enrollment period or during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.

If you would like to explore Medicare Advantage plans in your area, speak with a licensed insurance agent at TTY Users: 711.

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**Medicare Part A still covers hospice care, even if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

MedicareAdvantage.com is a website owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and TruBridge, Inc. represent Medicare Advantage Organizations and Prescription Drug Plans having Medicare contracts; enrollment in any plan depends upon contract renewal.

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 www.medicare.gov.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.