When Can You Collect Medicare?

When Can You Collect Medicare?

Medicare kicks in when you reach age 65. If you work, you can qualify for Medicare at age 65, if you don't have a disability that prevents you from working. But that's not the only way you can qualify for Medicare.

How to qualify for Medicare

You can get Medicare if you have:

Worked long enough

If you're a worker and you're younger than 65, but you're not yet eligible for Medicare, you may be able to buy it through the "Early Enrollment Period" or "Medicare Buy-In" program.

How many years you must work to qualify for "Early Enrollment" depends on your age and the year you were born:

Born in 1955 or later: 10 years

Born in 1956 or earlier: 40 quarters

Also, you can qualify for "Early Enrollment" if you:

Have permanent kidney failure and are under age 65, or

Are blind and are under age 65

What is a quarter?

A quarter is defined as a three-month period during each year for which you paid (or could have paid) Social Security taxes. For most people, that's the first four out of the 12 months.

5 ways to get Medicare before 65

Becoming eligible for Medicare is a big deal. It ensures you'll have coverage if you get sick, as well as access to free preventive services. Plus, in many cases, it means you'll avoid costly out-of-pocket expenses.

But it's also important to know that there are a number of ways to qualify for Medicare before 65. These include:

Working in a job that offers coverage

Working part time

Being a retired or disabled worker

Qualifying for disability benefits

Having kidney failure

Becoming a "dual eligible" individual (someone who qualifies for Medicare and Medicaid

Having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Qualifying for "Early Enrollment" under the "Early Retirement" provision

Qualifying for Medicare based on end-stage renal disease (ESRD)

Qualifying for Medicare based on disability

Having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Using a Medicare Savings Program

Being a "dual eligible" individual means you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

If you are permanently and totally disabled, you may be able to get Medicare before 65.

To qualify, you must have:

Have been disabled for at least 24 months, and

Received Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months

If you worked, you must have:

Been employed in a job covered by Social Security (or a job for which you paid Social Security taxes) for at least 10 years

Worked long enough to earn 40 quarters of coverage, or

Worked long enough to earn 40 quarters of coverage and claim disability benefits

Becoming a "dual eligible" individual

You're a "dual eligible" individual if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. You may be eligible if:

You're over 65 and have low income and limited resources, and

You live in a facility paid for by Medicaid, or

Your family income is below the national poverty level for the number of people in your family.

If you are eligible for both, you will have to be enrolled in one of the programs before you can be covered by the other.

Qualifying for Medicare based on ESRD

If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you may qualify for Medicare before 65.

ESRD is a chronic illness that prevents the kidneys from removing waste from the body. People with ESRD must have daily dialysis or kidney transplantation to get treatment.

In order to qualify for Medicare, you must:

Be under age 65, and

Be on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant

You may also qualify if you're:

Under age 65 and have been on dialysis for at least 60 months, or

Under age 65 and will be on dialysis for at least 60 months

You can also qualify if you:

Have ESRD and have been on dialysis or a kidney transplant for at least 36 months, or

Will be on dialysis or have a kidney transplant for at least 36 months.

You may also qualify if you're disabled and:

You've been on dialysis for at least three months, or

You will be on dialysis for at least three months

If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, you'll have to be enrolled in one or the other before you can be covered by the other.

Qualifying for Medicare based on kidney failure

If you have chronic kidney failure, you may be able to get Medicare before 65.

To qualify for Medicare, you must:

You also qualify if you:

Have chronic kidney failure and are on dialysis, or

Have chronic kidney failure and will be on dialysis for at least 60 months.

You can also qualify if you're disabled and:

Qualifying for Medicare based on end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), you may qualify for Medicare before 65.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve

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