Medicare eligibility starts at age 65. However, you can get Medicare before you reach age 65 if you meet certain qualifications. These qualifications include:
- Social Security disability
- Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability
- specific illness: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or end stage renal disease (ESRD)
- family relationship
- basic eligibility requirements
Keep reading to learn more about how you can qualify for Medicare before turning 65.
If you’re under age 65 and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, you qualify for Medicare.
You can enroll in your 22nd month of receiving these benefits, and your coverage will begin in your 25th month of receiving them.
If you’re entitled to monthly benefits based on an occupational disability and have been granted a disability freeze, you become eligible for Medicare on the 30th month after the date of the freeze.
If you receive a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for Medicare before age 65.
You may be eligible for Medicare if you have either:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). If you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, you become immediately eligible for Medicare upon collecting Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.
- End stage renal disease (ESRD). If you have ESRD, also known as end stage kidney disease, and need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant, you’re eligible for Medicare and your coverage can begin shortly after your first dialysis treatment.
Under certain circumstances, and typically following a 24-month waiting period, you may be eligible for Medicare under age 65 based on your relationship with a Medicare recipient, including:
- disabled widow(er) under age 65
- disabled surviving divorced spouses under age 65
- disabled children
To qualify for Medicare under any circumstances, including reaching age 65 and those outlined above, you’ll need to meet the following eligibility requirements:
- U.S. citizenship. You must be a citizen, or you must have been a legal resident for a minimum of five years.
- Address. You must have a stable U.S. address.
- HSA. You can’t contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA); however, you can use existing funds in your HSA.
In most cases, you’ll need to receive care within the U.S.
If you’re imprisoned, generally the correctional facility will provide and pay for your care, not Medicare.
Medicare is the U.S. government’s health insurance program for people aged 65 or older. You could be eligible for Medicare before you reach 65 under specific circumstances including:
- Railroad Retirement Board disability pension
- specific illness
- family relationship
You can check on your eligibility for Medicare with the online Medicare eligibility & premium calculator.