Who Is Qualified for Medicare?

Many United States citizens qualify for Medicare enrollment at age 65. But did you know that some people may be qualified for Medicare earlier based on a specific health condition or disability? Do you know how to enroll in Medicare?

This five-step guide will answer your questions about Medicare enrollment requirements and help you get started.

Grandparents in car with grandchildren

Common questions about Medicare eligibility

Millions of Americans rely on Medicare for health care coverage, but understanding how the program works may be a little overwhelming. Here are a few basic facts about Medicare eligibility and enrollment that will help you get started.

1) Is everyone eligible for Medicare at age 65?

If you are age 65 or older and are a U.S. citizen or have been a legal resident for at least the past five years, you may be eligible to receive Medicare benefits.

2) How do I enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B?

Some beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in both parts of Original Medicare. You’ll be automatically enrolled if you’re already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for four months when you turn 65 years old. If you are automatically enrolled, your Medicare card should arrive in the mail three months before you turn 65.

If you need to manually enroll in Medicare, you can enroll in Medicare online with the Social Security Administration or enroll in person at your local  Social Security office. You can also call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.

3) Am I eligible for Medicare before age 65 if I have a disability?

If you are younger than age 65 and receive disability benefits through Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for at least 24 months, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare.

Your Medicare card should be mailed to you close to three months before your 25th month of disability benefits.

4) What illnesses qualify me to get Medicare before age 65?

Some people are eligible for Medicare before age 65 because they suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. People living with ALS automatically receive Medicare benefits once they start receiving Social Security disability benefits.

People with ESRD become eligible the first day of the fourth month of receiving dialysis treatments, but must manually enroll.

5) How else can I receive my Medicare benefits?

You can choose to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan (also called Medicare Part C) to receive your Medicare benefits.

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and may include additional benefits not offered by Original Medicare — vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage, for example.

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

Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!