Who is Eligible for Medicare?

Generally, you are eligible for Medicare if you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment and you are 65 years or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. If you aren’t yet 65, you might also qualify for coverage if you have a disability or with End-Stage Renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).

Here are some simple guidelines. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

  • You already get retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
  • You are eligible to get Social Security or Railroad benefits but haven't yet filed for them.
  • You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

If you are under 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if you have:

  • Received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months.
  • End-Stage Renal Disease and meet certain requirements.

While you don’t have to pay a premium for Part A if you meet one of those conditions, you must pay for Part B if you want it. The Part B monthly premium in 2010 is $110.50. (Note: Most beneficiaries will continue to pay the same $96.40 premium amount they pay today. For additional details, see our FAQ titled: Will my Medicare Part B premium increase in 2010?) It is deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or Civil Service Retirement check. If you don’t get any of the above payments, Medicare sends you a bill for your Part B premium every 3 months.

Note: You will be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 even if you are not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

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