When can you start getting Medicare?

Published by Medicare Made Clear®

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.

When can you enroll in Medicare for the first time?

Signing up for Medicare at age 65

You can first sign up for Medicare during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP includes the month you turn 65, the three months before, and the three months after.

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).

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