When you turn 65, you become eligible for Medicare if you:

  1. Either receive or qualify for Social Security retirement cash benefits
  2. Or, currently reside in the United States and are either:
    1. A U.S. citizen
    2. Or, a permanent U.S. resident who has lived in the U.S. continuously for five years prior to applying

How you enroll at age 65 depends on whether or not you are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits. Also, there are circumstances in which someone may become Medicare-eligible at age 65 but defers Medicare enrollment without future penalties—for instance, if an individual has qualifying insurance from an employer.

How much you have to pay for your Medicare coverage depends on your work history (i.e. if and how long you have paid Medicare taxes). Everyone owes a monthly premium for their medical insurance (Part B). Most people with Medicare get their hospital insurance (Part A) premium-free.

For questions regarding Medicare eligibility, call the Medicare Rights Center’s free national helpline at 800-333-4114.

Return to: Medicare In-Depth

This content was created and copyrighted by the Medicare Rights Center ©2020. Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities. These materials are presented here with support from YourMedicare.com and may not be distributed, modified or edited without Medicare Rights’ consent.

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