A somewhat cynical old saying declares that only two things in life are guaranteed: death and taxes. But there’s also something positive you can count on, and that’s Medicare.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that U.S. citizens and qualified legal residents are guaranteed access to once they reach eligibility. (To qualify as a legal resident, you must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years in a row leading up to your eligibility date.)
There are a few ways to become eligible for Medicare. The most common one is your age. Let’s assume you meet the citizenship qualification above and go explore more about becoming eligible for Medicare via age.
At What Age Can You Get Medicare?
You are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. You may be working, not working or retired. You may or may not be receiving Social Security or other retirement benefits. As far as Medicare eligibility goes, your age is what matters.
Key word – your. Medicare is individual insurance. It’s your age that counts, not your spouse’s, even if you are both covered by the same employer insurance when one of you turns 65.
Also, Medicare is separate from Social Security benefits, and there are different eligibility requirements for each. The age for Medicare eligibility is 65. The age for full Social Security benefits depends on what year you were born.
Signing Up for Medicare at Age 65
You can first sign up for Medicare during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period. Your IEP includes the month you turn 65, the three months before, and the three months after.
Watch this video below for a quick overview of all the required Medicare qualifications.
An animated white speech bubble appears over an animated character's blue and yellow head.
ON SCREEN TEXT: When can I enroll in Medicare?
The character and speech bubble exit on the right side of the screen.
Blue text appears in a vertical line. White text appears next to each letter.
ON SCREEN TEXT: I Initial
ON SCREEN TEXT: E Enrollment
ON SCREEN TEXT: P Period
The camera pans down and shows a bunch of yellow pencils with green tips. One pencil makes a green check mark in a white box.
ON SCREEN TEXT: This is the first time you can enroll in Medicare.
Some of the pencils disappear and a row of calendars appear.
ON SCREEN TEXT: The IEP lasts for 7 months. It begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday.
ON SCREEN TEXT: 3 months until 65
ON SCREEN TEXT: 2 months until 65
ON SCREEN TEXT: 1 month until 65
ON SCREEN TEXT: Happy 65th
The calendars slide to the left and confetti explodes from the "Happy 65th" calendar.
ON SCREEN TEXT: the month of your 65th birthday
ON SCREEN TEXT: and ends 3 months after.
ON SCREEN TEXT: 1 month after 65
ON SCREEN TEXT: 2 months after 65
ON SCREEN TEXT: 3 months after 65
A form for Part C slides up, below blue text.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Your IEP is when you can make Medicare coverage decisions such as enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
The form for Part D is highlighted.
A blue background slides down and white text appears.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Medicare Made Clear® by UnitedHealthcare
If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare automatically when you turn 65. You’ll get your Medicare card in the mail.
If you’re not enrolled automatically at age 65, then you’ll need to sign up for Medicare yourself when you’re ready. You can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B online at www.ssa.gov, in-person at your local Social Security office or via phone 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).