Medicare for individuals who are divorced or widowed

Published by Medicare Made Clear®

Many individuals who are divorced or widowed are concerned that the loss of their spouse will somehow affect their ability to qualify for Original Medicare (Parts A & B).

Rest assured your marital status does not affect your ability to qualify for Medicare. You are eligible for Medicare if:

  • You are a U.S citizen or legal resident for at least 5 consecutive years; and
  • You are:
    • Age 65 or older or
    • Younger than 65 with a qualifying disability or
    • Any age if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Marital status may affect the cost of your Part A monthly premium

Even though your marital status doesn’t affect eligibility, it could impact the cost of your Medicare Part A monthly premium.

Most individuals qualify for premium-free Part A because they’ve worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years (40 quarters). If you didn’t pay Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, you may not qualify for premium-free or reduced-premium Part A based on your own work history.

However, you may be allowed to use the work history of your former or deceased spouse under certain conditions.

  • You were married at least 10 years before the date your divorce was final; or
  • You were married a least 1 year before the date of your spouse’s death.

Your Part A monthly premium amount depends on how long your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes.1

  • You may get premium-free Part A if your former or late spouse paid Medicare taxes for 10 years (40 quarters)


  • You may pay $278 per month in 2024 if your spouse paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters; or
  • You may pay $505 per month in 2024 if your spouse worked less than 30 quarters.

Individual situations may vary, so be sure to find out what you costs will be for Part well in advance of the end of your Initial Enrollment Period.

Part B enrollment may be impacted if you lose coverage through your spouse

In most cases, individuals who do not enroll in Part B when they first become eligible may have to pay late enrollment penalties. However, if you were covered by a spouse’s employer or retiree coverage, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period during which to get Part B.

The online blog doesn’t take into account every situation, so it’s important that you ask questions and get answers for your specific situation. You may want to contact the Social Security Administration for more information by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

About Medicare Made Clear

Medicare Made Clear brought to you by UnitedHealthcare provides Medicare education so you can make informed decisions about your health and Medicare coverage.

Get the latest

Boost your Medicare know-how with the reliable, up-to-date news and information delivered to your inbox every month.

*All fields required