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medicare age

The Medicare eligibility age is the age at which you have access to Medicare Part A and are able to purchase Medicare Part B. For just about everyone, the Medicare eligibility age is 65. For some with disabilities or End Stage Renal Disease, though, eligibility may come at a younger age. Most people are eligible to receive part A without having to pay for it, but there are a few exceptions, which we’ll note in further detail below.

The Medicare Eligibility Age

The current Medicare eligibility age is 65. This means that people 65 and over are eligible to begin receiving Medicare benefits.

Besides your age, you must also meet further requirements to receive Medicare benefits. First off, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident in the U.S. for at least five years. You may also qualify if you or your spouse has worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security benefits. Lastly, you can qualify if you or your spouse is a government employee or retiree who has not paid into Social Security but has paid Medicare payroll taxes.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides impartial research and analysis for Congress, has introduced a plan that would gradually increase the eligibility age by two months each year until it reaches 67 for people born in 1966 and after. This is a very similar plan to what took place with the Social Security Full Retirement Age in 1983. However, no official action has been taken on this plan. For the foreseeable future, you’re eligible for Medicare once you hit 65.

Can You Qualify for Medicare Before the Eligibility Age?

There are also ways an individual under the age of 65 can be eligible for Medicare. For one, you may qualify if you have been eligible for Social Security benefits for at least 24 months. If you have a Railroad Retirement board disability pension you can also qualify. Or, if you have end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, you may qualify for Medicare benefits below the eligibility age.

You can also still get full Medicare benefits even if you don’t qualify based on your work record or your spouse’s. However, you still must be at least 65 and a U.S. citizen or a legal resident of the U.S. for at least five years. To qualify, you must pay premiums for hospital insurance (Medicare Part A) and pay the same monthly premiums that other enrollees pay for doctor visits (Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D).

How to Enroll for Medicare

What Is the Medicare Eligibility Age?

If you meet the requirements for those 65 and older, you can receive Medicare Part A without paying any premiums. However, if you or your spouse did not pay Medicare taxes, you may have to pay for Part A. Medicare Part A covers hospital insurance. Medicare part B covers things like outpatient care, preventive services and medical equipment. It can also cover part-time home health services and physical therapy. Should you decide you also want Medicare Part B, you must pay a monthly premium.

If you have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare at the start of the 25th month. If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, you are automatically enrolled the first month you begin receiving benefits. For these situations, enrollment includes both Medicare Part A and Part B. However, if you have end-stage renal disease, your Medicare benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. In this case, you will need to manually apply.

The Takeaway

What Is the Medicare Eligibility Age?

It’s important to know when you reach the Medicare eligibility age. That way you can apply for Medicare as soon as possible. Even if you qualify for an exception, you won’t always automatically receive Medicare benefits right away. Staying educated about your Medicare eligibility status will ensure you’re receiving the benefits you need. To better understand Medicare coverage specific to you, be sure to contact Social Security and head to Medicare.gov.

Tips for Getting Retirement Ready

  • A financial advisor can be a big help in figuring out how medical expenses will affect your retirement. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Medical costs aren’t the only expenses you’ll need to grapple with in retirement. Think about where you’ll want to retire to see how cost of living could impact your lifestyle. SmartAsset’s cost of living calculator can help you figure out your costs so you’ll know how much you’ll need to save. And our retirement calculator can help you see if you’re on track with those savings.

Photo Credit: ©iStock.com/dragana911, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages, ©iStock.com/shapecharge

Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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