Who is Eligible for Medicare?

Most people are eligible to get Medicare when they reach the age of 65. Some people who are younger (ages 18 to 65) and have certain disabilities that prevent them from working can also get Medicare. To get Medicare Parts A & B (Original Medicare), the following criteria must be met.


  • United States citizenship OR

  • Have lived in the United States legally for at least 5 years nonstop.

Medicare Eligibility Age

  • Age 65 or older, OR

  • Over 18 and under age 65 AND meet one of these conditions:

    • Have received Social Security disability benefits, or SSDI, for at least 2 years, OR

    • Have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), AND

      • Are starting to get Social Security disability. Usually, you can get Medicare the 6th month after Social Security found that your disability started, OR

    • Have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease, sometimes called ESRD, AND

      • Have been on dialysis for 3 months OR

      • Have had a kidney transplant.

Special Circumstances

The details of Medicare eligibility go beyond just turning 65 and being a United States citizen. For unique situations, one or more of the scenarios below may be applicable.

  • Eligible for Medicare but need coverage for a non-working spouse.

  • Turning 65 and still working

  • A veteran with VA benefits

  • Turning 65 and NOT working

  • A veteran with TRICARE

  • Losing existing coverage

  • A veteran with CHAMPVA

  • Under 65 and have a disability

  • Have (or may get) COBRA coverage

  • Under 65 and am living with ALS

  • Living in a nursing home

  • Under 65 and living with ESRD

  • Receiving Railroad Retirement (RR) Benefits

  • A federal, state or local government worker

  • Have Medicaid

  • A U.S. citizen living outside of the United States

  • Living in Puerto Rico

  • Have retiree coverage

  • Going to be released from the prison system soon

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Age Well Planner is an educational website created by nonprofit the National Council on Aging (NCOA). We provide information, resources, and referrals on topics such as: Benefits, Income, and Medicare.

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