If you are 65 or older, you can qualify for full Medicare benefits if you meet certain conditions. These usually include being at or above retirement age, or meeting certain other non-age-related conditions. These conditions, such as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS) are some of the ways to qualify for Medicare if you are not yet of retirement age.
Most people, however, must be 65 or older to enroll. Read on to learn more about work credits and other requirements you may need to meet in order to enroll in Medicare.
In general, you qualify for Medicare if:
- You are a United States citizen or a permanent legal resident who has lived in the country for a minimum of 5 years.
- You are already receiving Social Security or railroad retirement benefits. If you are not yet collecting these benefits but you have worked long enough to be collecting them, then you can also qualify for Medicare.
- You or your partner is a government employee or has retired from working for the government and has not paid into Social Security but has paid Medicare payroll taxes.
If you are a United States citizen or permanent legal resident but you and your spouse have not worked enough to automatically qualify for Medicare, you can still opt in to Medicare. However, you will have to pay for the program.
The amount you will have to pay for Medicare Part A depends on how many work credits you have earned through your work history. There is a direct correlation between how long you have worked and the number of work credits that you have.
The system for work credits is based on your income. In 2023 you earn one work credit for every $1,510 that you have made in income and you can earn up to 4 credits per year.
- If you have collected less than 30 work credits then you have to pay the maximum monthly premium amount for Part A Medicare (in 2023 this is $506).
- If you have 30 to 39 credits you will pay less than this amount.
- If you have worked up to 40 credits then you will not have to pay any premium.
Learn about Medicare before your 65th birthday so that you are ready to apply.