The short answer: yes, you can qualify for Medicare before turning 65 if you meet certain health conditions. Most people eligible to receive Medicare benefits sign up to receive them before their 65th birthday. And, if you began receiving Social Security retirement benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, you’re enrolled automatically. For everyone else, there are exceptions that may allow you to enroll in Medicare at any age if you meet certain requirements.
Do You Collect Social Security Disability Insurance?
In most cases, if you have a disability and have been collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for 24 months, you become eligible for and are automatically enrolled in Medicare beginning in the 25th month.
Note that we began the above paragraph with the phrase “in most cases.” If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the 24-month waiting period is waived. Medicare eligibility begins during your first month of SSDI benefits when approved based on an ALS diagnosis.
If you are or were a railroad worker, please contact the Railroad Retirement Board to determine Medicare eligibility and learn about the disability annuity.
Please remember that determining SSDI eligibility is the role of Social Security, not Medicare.
Were You Diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease?
Under certain conditions, people diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or kidney failure qualify for Medicare benefits before age 65. If you receive dialysis treatments or underwent a kidney transplant, you may be eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, retroactive up to 12 months. If you are eligible for SSDI, Railroad Retirement benefits, or you or your spouse or family member paid sufficient Medicare taxes, you can apply for Medicare benefits.
Railroad workers with ESRD should contact Social Security rather than the Railroad Retirement Board to determine Medicare eligibility after an ESRD diagnosis.
Talk to a Licensed Medicare Agent
The licensed agents at Medicare Solutions can help you understand your Medicare plan options. Just call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 (TTY 711). You can also use our online tool to review plans in your area.
Signing up for Medicare: Special Conditions on Medicare.gov