People With Medicare
Just for You
People Living with a Disability
Most people on Social Security disability benefits are eligible to get Medicare before they reach the age of 65:
- Do you get Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?
The Social Security Disability Insurance (or SSDI program) gives income to people who are found disabled and unable to work. People who have worked long enough are eligible to get this benefit from Social Security. SSDI benefits usually start 6 months after you are found disabled.
Note: People who have not worked long enough are eligible for what is called SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. The SSI program gives cash to people who have very limited income to meet their daily needs who have not worked long enough to get SSDI. These people can be 65 or older, or younger and unable to work because of a disability. The SSI program is not the same as SSDI. You can usually get Medicaid from your state when you get SSI but you do not qualify for Medicare until you turn 65.
After you get SSDI benefits for 2 years (24 months), you can get Medicare. You do not have to do anything to enroll in Medicare. You will automatically be enrolled. Your Medicare card should arrive usually around the 23rd month that you get disability benefits. If it does not come by the 24th month, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or visit them online.Your Medicare benefits begin the 25th month you get SSDI.
- Have you been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?
People who are diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease/ALS also get their Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits 6 months after being found disabled by Social Security. And, your Medicare benefits will also start at this time. The Medicare 24-month “waiting period” does not apply to Lou Gehrig’s/ALS.
You do not have to do anything to enroll in Medicare. You will automatically be enrolled. Your Medicare card should arrive usually around the 4th month that you get disability benefits. If it does not come by the 5th month, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or visit them online. Your Medicare benefits begin the 6th month you get SSDI.
Once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you should review the other options such as getting Part D prescription drug coverage. Get personal help with reviewing your options.
Learn more about the SSDI program from Social Security.
- Have you been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease, sometimes called ESRD?
Regardless of age, if you have been diagnosed by your doctor with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and are on dialysis for three months, or have had a kidney transplant, you are automatically eligible for Medicare. You do not have to have been collecting Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits to get Medicare if you have ESRD. This is because some people with ESRD continue to work, and never apply for disability benefits. Either way, you are eligible for Medicare. The start date of your Medicare benefits depends on the type of treatment you get.
Note: If you get health insurance through your job (or your spouse's job), you should talk with your human resources department to find out how your benefits may change if you enroll in Medicare. In general, your job health insurance will continue to pay first for 30 months (2.5 years). You may want to delay Medicare. Get personal help with reviewing your options.
To enroll in Medicare, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or visit them online. Once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you should review the other options such as getting Part D prescription drug coverage.
Other Programs that Can Help You
There are programs that can help people with Medicare who have limited income and resources pay for the costs Medicare does not cover.
- Medicare Savings Programs. These help people with limited incomes pay for Medicare Part A and B costs, such as the Part A and B premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Learn More
- Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)/Extra Help Program. This program helps people with limited incomes pay for Medicare Part D costs. These include the plan deductible, monthly plan premiums, and prescription drug copayments. Learn More
- Additional Help with Part D. There may be other programs in your state that can help you pay for your Part D costs. Learn More
Other Helpful Online Resources
- www.ssa.gov: To apply for Medicare, you can use Social Security's online services. Follow Social Security's instructions.
- MyMedicare.gov: Medicare offers a secure website where people with Medicare can review and track their benefits. Once you enroll in Medicare, go to www.MyMedicare.gov, and sign-up for this free, online service. Through your online account, you can get:
- Information about your Medicare benefits (24 hours a day, 7 sevens a week),
- Get and print your recent Medicare claims and notices,
- Track your prescriptions,
- Sign-up to get your yearly Medicare & You handbook electronically, and more.
The service also has a live chat feature. This way, you can get direct assistance online from Medicare.
NEXT: Types of Coverage