Medicare Age of Eligibility
Discover at which age you become eligible for Medicare and when your initial enrollment begins.
What Is the Age of Eligibility for Medicare?
Whether you're nearing your retirement date or simply planning ahead, you may have started to think about Medicare. In particular, you may be wondering at what age you're eligible to enroll in Medicare and receive coverage.
The age of eligibility for Medicare is 65.
While 65 is the general age of eligibility, some individuals may qualify for Medicare at an earlier age. If you have end stage renal disease or ALS, you are eligible for Medicare.
Also, if you are already receiving retirement or disability benefits, you are likely eligible for Medicare.
At What Age Can I Get Medicare?
The current age of eligibility at 65 years old has remained unchanged since Medicare’s inception in 1965. Once you reach this age, you are eligible to sign up for Medicare coverage.
This does not apply to other retirement benefits, however. The age at which you can receive 100% of your social security retirement benefits is 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
While there has been discussion about the possibility of an incremental increase to the age of 67 for Medicare eligibility, there is no reason to believe a change will take place anytime soon.
Am I Automatically Eligible for Medicare at Age 65?
Besides meeting the age threshold of 65, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident for a period of at least five years.
Similar to Social Security, Medicare is funded by withholding tax from worker paychecks.
If you have paid this Medicare tax (FICA tax) for 10 years, you will be eligible to receive Medicare Part A free of charge thanks to your payroll deductions.
Can I Enroll in Medicare Before I am Eligible?
You can enroll in Medicare in the three months directly before you turn 65. These three months are part of what is known as your Initial Enrollment Period.
Your Initial Enrollment Period is a seven-month period that surrounds the month of your 65th birthday.
It begins three months prior to your birthday month, includes your birthday month, then extends for an additional three months after.
If you enroll during these first three months of your Initial Enrollment Period, your Medicare coverage will begin on the first of your birthday month.
If you enroll during your birthday month or in the three months after, there may be a delay in your coverage but you will still avoid late enrollment penalties.
What if I Work Past My Initial Eligibility of 65?
If you're continuing to work past the age of 65, your Initial Enrollment Period remains the same.
Even if you have health insurance through your employer, you may still want to enroll in Part A at this time, as it is premium-free.
Many of those still working choose to delay Part B enrollment, however, as it comes with a monthly premium.
Once your employment ends, you will have the option to sign up for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period without facing a late penalty.
It is a good idea to discuss this with your employer health insurance provider. Some plans may require you to take full Medicare benefits at this time, depending on how many employees there are in your company.
Up Next: What Does Medicare Cover?