Medicare Eligibility: How Old Do You Have To Be?

Medicare isn't just for people over the age of 65. People younger than 65 may qualify for Medicare coverage if they have certain disabilities, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may also be eligible to receive Medicare benefits after a two-year waiting period. It's important to understand all of your options when it comes to health insurance, so make sure to research and consider each plan that fits your needs.
Medicare Eligibility: How Old Do You Have To Be?

[Medicare](https://coverageguru.com/medicare/basics/what-is-medicare) is a federal health insurance program primarily designed to provide comprehensive health coverage for people age 65 and older, but it can also cover younger people with certain disabilities or those with end-stage renal disease. Medicare offers a variety of benefits, including doctor visits, hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, and more. Even if you don't qualify for full coverage under original Medicare, there are usually additional plans available to help supplement your healthcare costs.Knowing the Medicare eligibility age can help them determine if they are eligible for coverage and what types of benefits they could receive. It is important to understand the eligibility requirements so that you can prepare financially and take advantage of the benefits available. Knowing when you may be eligible can help reduce the financial burden associated with healthcare costs.## Medicare Eligibility AgeIndividuals who are age 65 or above and citizens of the United States, or those who have been living in the US for at least five years and are permanent residents, are eligible to apply for Medicare coverage. Additionally, most [people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits automatically qualify for Medicare after two years](https://coverageguru.com/medicare/tools-and-resources/social-security-disability-insurance-and-medicare-coverage). Everyone who is eligible for Medicare coverage should fill out an application to determine if they qualify and what type of coverage best fits their needs.## Does It Matter If You’re A Retiree or Still Working?[To be eligible to apply for Medicare](https://www.medicare.gov/eligibilitypremiumcalc), a person who is 65 years of age or older does not have to be actively working at the time. Retirees and those on long-term disability can also apply for Medicare coverage regardless of their current employment status. When applying for the program, individuals will be asked to provide proof of either US citizenship or lawful residency in the country. Depending on a person's financial situation, they may be able to receive assistance with paying their health insurance premiums if they meet certain criteria.## Medicare for SpouseSpouses of individuals age 65 or older are also eligible to apply for Medicare coverage. In some cases, spouses may be allowed to stay on their partner’s health insurance plan, but it is important to understand exactly what the coverage rules are and whether they will still be eligible after their partner has applied for Medicare. Additionally, depending on financial need, there may be assistance available that can help cover the premiums associated with a spouse’s health insurance plan.## Can I Get Medicare Before I Turn 65?Those with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) can be eligible for Medicare regardless of their age. ESRD is a permanent and severe kidney failure that requires patients to undergo regular dialysis or a kidney transplant, while ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. To be eligible for Medicare coverage, individuals must meet the requirements set by the Social Security Administration, which often includes providing evidence of health condition and financial information.## [What Is the Difference Between Medicaid and Medicare](https://coverageguru.com/medicare/tools-and-resources/medicare-vs-medicaid)?Medicaid and Medicare are both government-funded health insurance programs, but they serve different populations. Medicare is primarily for people ages 65 and older, while Medicaid covers certain low-income individuals of all ages. Medicaid may also cover services and benefits that Medicare does not, such as long-term care services and prescription drugs. Additionally, eligibility requirements for each program vary according to states’ unique rules. Generally speaking, Medicaid requires applicants to have limited income and resources in order to qualify while Medicare requires a person's age or disability status to be considered.## Bottom LineApplying for Medicare coverage can be a complicated process. To get started, it’s important to understand the different parts of Medicare and decide which ones you need. The only way to officially apply is through the Social Security Administration’s website, but you may also want to consider using a service like CoverageGuru. This can save time on your application by helping you compare plans, prices, and services offered in your area. [CoverageGuru also provides resources for people who want to learn more about their health coverage options](https://coverageguru.com/) — from understanding how deductibles work to finding the best value for their needs.