Summary: Though many people become eligible for Medicare Part A when they turn 65, you may qualify for Part A coverage under age 65 if you meet certain criteria. In this article, we’ll explain the eligibility requirements for Medicare Part A, including how you can qualify for a $0 monthly premium for your Part A coverage. Estimated Read Time: 4 min
Who is Eligible for Medicare Part A?
Many people become eligible for Medicare Part A when they turn 65. However there are instances where you can qualify for Medicare Part A prior to turning 65.
If you are age 65 or older, you are eligible for Medicare Part A if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You will first become eligible to sign up for Medicare Part A three months prior to your 65th birthday. You will have a seven-month period, known as your Initial Enrollment Period in which you can sign up for Medicare Part A coverage.
You can also qualify for Medicare Part A coverage if you are under the age of 65 and have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for at least 24 months. If you have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you will become eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B as soon as you begin getting disability benefits; you will also be enrolled automatically.
Individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) can qualify for Medicare Part A (and Part B) regardless of age if they meet specific criteria; this includes children with ESRD.
Who is Eligible for Premium-Free Medicare Part A?
Medicare Part A is available with a $0 monthly premium to enrollees who meet certain requirements. You are eligible for Medicare Part A with a $0 premium if:
- You are eligible for Medicare Part A prior to age 65 due to a disability
- You qualify for Medicare Part A due to ESRD
- You or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for 10 or more years
- Your spouse, living or deceased (including a divorced spouse), receives or is eligible to receive Social Security or RRB benefits
- You are the dependent parent of a deceased child who was fully insured
If you’re unsure how many eligible working quarters you paid Medicare taxes, you can log into your account at SSA.gov. There, you can review how many working quarters you contributed taxes to Medicare, which can help you determine whether you qualify for a $0 premium Medicare Part A.
Who is not eligible for Medicare Part A with a $0 premium?
Though most people qualify for Medicare Part A with a $0 premium, there are instances in which individuals will need to pay for their Part A. If you do not meet the requirements above, you will need to “buy” your Medicare Part A coverage by paying a monthly premium. Let’s look at an example:
Bob just turned 65 and wants to enroll in Medicare Part A. Bob didn’t work throughout his life and did not qualify for disability benefits. Since he did not pay into Medicare taxes, he will need to “buy” Medicare Part A. This means he will need to pay a monthly premium for his Part A coverage.
When you do not qualify for premium-free Part A, the amount your pay for your Medicare Part A premium will depend on how many years you paid Medicare taxes.
Medicare Part A Eligibility Checklist: Do I Qualify for Part A?
Do you meet the eligibility requirements for Medicare Part A? Below, we’ve simplified the eligibility criteria to help you understand if you qualify for Medicare Part A.
- You are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States
Age Requirements for Medicare Part A (you must meet one of the following requirements)
- You are turning 65 in 3 months
- You are 65 or older
- You are under the age of 65 but have received disability benefits for 24 months or more
- You are under the age of 65 but have ALS or ESRD
Qualifying for Medicare Part A with a $0 Premium
- You qualify for Medicare Part A under the age of 65 (for example, if you qualify due to a disability)
- You or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for 40 or more working quarters (10 years)
Don’t Qualify for a $0 Premium for Part A? If you do not qualify for the $0 premium for Medicare Part A, you can still choose to “buy” Part A coverage by paying a monthly premium.
Learn More About Eligibility and Medicare Part A
Are you eligible for Medicare Part A? If you’re getting ready to sign up for Medicare Part A, or are looking for more information about coverage, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find additional resources that can help you gain a full understanding of Medicare Part A and how to enroll in coverage.
If you have additional questions about Medicare Part A eligibility requirements or are unsure if you qualify for a $0 premium, you can call us at the number above to speak with a licensed insurance agent. Our licensed agents are ready to answer any questions you may have about Medicare eligibility and enrollment.
Medicare, Social Security Administration. Accessed January 2024