The standard age for Medicare eligibility is 65. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your 65th birthday to get Medicare coverage. Some people can benefit from Medicare three years (or more) before they turn 65. However, you must meet certain requirements to qualify for the “Medicare Age 62” policy.
So, what do YOU have to do to qualify for Medicare when you turn 62? Are there any limits on benefits for recipients under 65? Finally, are there any special rules for spouses under 65?
Medicare Age 62 – How to Qualify
Most Americans can qualify for Medicare when they retire. You just have to meet two basic requirements. First, you must be 65 years old. Second, you must be a legal U.S. citizen or legal resident (for at least five years). However, the rules for people under 65 are much more stringent.
To qualify for Medicare BEFORE age 65, one of the following must apply to you:
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as ALS) is a disease of the nervous system that impairs muscle function and mobility. If you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident with ALS, you can qualify for Medicare at any age. It doesn’t matter if you’re 32 or 62; ALS means that you can sign up for Medicare.
Learn More: Is Radicava Covered by Medicare?
End-Stage Renal Disease
End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is a form of kidney failure that requires a kidney transplant or dialysis. Unlike ALS, ESRD does not automatically qualify you for Medicare. To be eligible for pre-65 Medicare with ESRD, you must also have a work history that qualifies you for one of the following:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Social Security Retirement Benefits
- Railroad Retirement Benefits
- Railroad Disability Annuity
If you do not have the work history to qualify, you can use the work history of a spouse or parent.
Social Security Disability Benefits
You qualify for Medicare if you under the age of 65 and have received disability benefits for at least 24 months. In other words, you must have a medical condition that has prevented you from working for at least two years.
Railroad Retirement Board Benefits
If you worked for the railroad and qualify for retirement benefits, you will also be eligible for pre-65 Medicare. To get this perk, you must have worked in the railroad industry for at least ten years. For people who worked in the industry post-1995, this number drops to just five years.
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Are There Any Benefit Limitations on Medicare Recipients Under 65?
Medicare benefits are the same for people who qualify before or after they turn 65. Once you are eligible for Medicare, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. Even if you are under 65, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or stand-alone Part D plan. You can also enroll in a Medigap plan. In short, you can access all the same parts of Medicare at 62 as you can at 65.
However, there are some differences when it comes to waiting periods. If you qualify for Medicare due to ALS or disability benefits, you don’t need to worry about signing up. The Social Security Administration will enroll you in Medicare once you start collecting disability benefits. On the other hand, if you have ESRD and qualify for Medicare, you’ll have to wait. Your benefits won’t kick in until three months after a kidney transplant or the start of dialysis.
What Does Early Medicare Eligibility Mean For My Spouse?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding Medicare benefits for spouses when you turn 62. However, it’s not as complicated as it seems. When it comes to spouses, 62 is only an important age when it comes to Part A coverage.
Let’s say that a couple (ages 65 and 62) are looking at their Medicare options. The 65-year-old did not work enough to get Social Security benefits. As a result, he or she will need to pay their full Part A premiums. Part A premiums can get expensive, as the maximum monthly premium for Part A is $458 (as of 2020).
However, let’s say the 62-year-old spouse has worked enough to get a premium-free Part A plan when they turn 65. In this case, the 65-year-old spouse would be eligible for a premium-free Part A plan, too. This simply allows a person without a long work history to benefit from the work history of their spouse.
Agent TipThe spouse exception doesn’t mean that a 62-year-old married person will qualify for pre-65 Medicare. It just means that they will enable their spouse to have a premium-free Part A plan.
There’s a reason that most people wait until they turn 65 to get their Medicare benefits. Most people don’t qualify for the “Medicare Age 62” policy. Even if you do, you may choose to wait until you turn 65 to be automatically enrolled.
We hope this answered your questions about the “Medicare Age 62” policy and eligibility for folks under the age of 65.
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