Who Qualifies for Free Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is free for most US citizens when they turn 65 years of age. There are several additional ways to qualify for free Medicare Part A, even if you are under 65 years old.
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Written by Brian Greenberg
CEO / Founder & Licensed Insurance Agent

Last updated: July 20th, 2022

Reviewed by Grant Desselle
Licensed Insurance Agent

Medicare Part A Free Eligibility:

Free Medicare Part A will start at age 65 as long as you are:

  • US citizen or permanent legal resident.
  • Completed 10 years of employment (40 calendar quarters) with Medicare payroll taxes deducted

Additional ways to qualify

If you are 65 years of age, you are eligible for free Medicare Part A if one of the following applies:

  1. You receive or are eligible to receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
  2. Your spouse (living or deceased, including divorced spouses) receives or is eligible to receive Social Security or RRB benefits.
  3. You or your spouse worked long enough in a government job through which you paid Medicare taxes.
  4. You are the dependent parent of a fully insured deceased child.
  5. You have been collecting Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, but have not yet filed for them yet.

Before age 65, you are eligible for Medicare Part A at no
cost if one of the following applies:

  1. Everyone eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is also eligible for Medicare after a 24-month qualifying period. The first 24 months of disability benefit is the waiting period for Medicare coverage.
  2. You receive a disability pension from the RRB and meet certain conditions.
  3. You’re the child or widow(er) age 50 or older, including a divorced widow(er), of a worker who has worked long enough under Social Security or in a Medicare-covered government job, and you meet the requirements of the Social Security disability program.
  4. You receive Social Security disability benefits because you have Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
  5. You have permanent kidney failure (end-stage renal disease) and you receive maintenance dialysis or a kidney transplant and one of the following applies:
    • You’re eligible for or receive monthly benefits under Social Security or the railroad retirement system.
    • You’ve worked long enough in a Medicare-covered government job.
    • You’re the child or spouse (including a divorced spouse) of a worker (living or deceased) who has worked long enough under Social Security or in a Medicare-covered government job.

Those who choose to enroll in Medicare after the enrollment period may be subject to a late enrollment penalty.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you may be able to get Medicare Part A by paying a monthly premium. Usually, you can purchase this coverage only during designated enrollment periods.

The medicare eligibility tool

Find out your Medicare Part A eligibility from medicare.gov. If you don’t see your situation, contact Social Security (or the Railroad Retirement Board if you get railroad benefits) to learn more about your specific eligibility or premium.

When Are You Eligible For Medicare Part A

Are you 65, but not taking retirement benefits?Requires manual enrollment during the Initial Enrollment Period (starts 3 months before your 65th birthday for 7 months total). If enrollment is missed during this time, penalties will apply or you must wait until General Enrollment begins (Jan 1- Mar 31)
Are you turning 65 AND receiving Social Security/ Railroad Retirement benefits?Medicare Part A enrollment should be automatic on the first day of the month you turn 65. You will receive your Medicare card about 3 months prior.
Are you under 65 and on disability from Social Security/ Railroad Retirement?After 24 months of disability coverage from Social Security/ Railroad Retirement, Medicare Part B enrollment is automatic starting the 25th
Have you been diagnosed with end-stage renal disease?Medicare coverage will begin the first day of the fourth month of dialysis treatment. NOTE: you must manually enroll if under 65.
Have you been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease?Automatic coverage when you start receiving Social Security disability benefits.You should receive card about 30 days after Social Security begins.

How To Enroll In Medicare Part A

To enroll:

  • You can enroll online at the Social Security website
  • Calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213
  • Call the Medicare toll-free number at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
  • Visiting your local Social Security office

Additional Medicare Resources

  • HealthCare.gov
  • InsureKidsNow.gov
  • Medicaid.gov
  • CMS.gov
  • HHS.gov
  • USA.gov

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