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Understanding Social Security and Medicare


Social Security and Medicare are both federal programs that help retired and disabled Americans. Together, these programs allow those no longer in the workforce to reap similar benefits to when they were employed. These benefits include a monthly income and healthcare coverage.

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There are similarities and differences between the two programs. Social Security provides income, whereas Medicare is health insurance. While they are two different programs, Medicare and Social Security work together. In this article, we answer your biggest questions, including who qualifies for each of these benefits.

Are Medicare and Social Security the Same Thing?

Medicare and Social Security are not the same. In fact, the two programs are quite different. Both Medicare and Social Security help those in retirement or on disability obtain basic necessities to live a comfortable life. Medicare provides health insurance, while Social Security provides a monthly income.

Generally, to apply for Medicare, you must be at least 65 years old. However, if you are under 65 and receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for 24 months or have a certain diagnosis, you will be eligible for Medicare.

What are the differences between Medicare and Social Security?

When you retire or go on disability, you receive a Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) check each month if you qualify. The Social Security Administration will determine Medicare eligibility and handle some of Medicare’s administrative work, like enrollment.

While these programs serve different purposes, both programs are funded through payroll taxes, provide benefits to those eligible, and help people with certain disabilities. Although they are different programs, the National Committee to preserve Social Security and Medicare help to protect both programs.

Can I File for Medicare Without Social Security?

You do not need to be on Social Security to apply for Medicare. If you do not yet collect Social Security benefits, you must pay the Medicare Part B premium directly. Then, once you begin taking Social Security benefits, you can have the premium deducted from your social security check. However, there is no requirement to take Social Security when you have Medicare.

Can You Get Medicare If You’ve Never Worked?

Even if you’ve never worked, you will still be eligible for Medicare. The only requirements are to be a United States citizen or legal resident of at least five years and qualify due to disability or age. However, you must pay the full Medicare Part A premium if you do not pay taxes for enough quarters.

However, your spouse’s work history counts toward your credit for premium-free Medicare Part A. If your spouse meets the requirements, you may be eligible for a reduced or zero Medicare Part A premium.

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Can You Immediately Receive Medicare with Social Security?

For those receiving SSDI, Medicare eligibility begins after 24 months of collecting benefits. The exception is when you have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – you immediately qualify with either condition.

Once you receive Medicare benefits for 24 months, you must take at least Medicare Part A. If you do not, you will lose your Social Security benefits.

Those under age 65 on disability will get benefits from Medicare Part A automatically and immediately if they have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. People otherwise on disability will receive Medicare Part A benefits after 24 months of collecting SSDI. Those who plan to obtain Social Security at 65 can have the same effective date for Medicare and Social Security.

Everyone’s situation is unique. So, if you want to work after age 65, you could delay benefits depending on how many people work for your employer.

Will Medicare Premiums Deduct from my Social Security Check?

Social Security will automatically deduct your Medicare Part B premiums from your monthly Social Security Income check. So, you do not need to worry about paying your premium manually each month. 

The amount that comes out of your Social Security check will depend on your annual income. Remember, the standard Medicare Part B premium amount changes annually and high earners will pay a higher premium.

If you do not have Social Security, Medicare will send you a quarterly bill. You can also contact Social Security directly to enroll in automatic payments and pay your premiums quarterly.

Additionally, Social Security can deduct your Medicare Part D drug plan premium. Depending on the effective date, you may need to make premium payments directly for a couple of months before premium withholding begins.

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FAQs

How much is taken out of Social Security for Medicare?
The amount taken out of Social Security for Medicare depends on your Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D costs. Those with a higher income will have an IRMAA, and more money will be taken out.
How can I update my address for Social Security and Medicare?
Have you recently moved any need to update your address? You can report address or name changes by calling the Social Security Administration. You can also go to your local Social Security office if you prefer.
How can I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?
Applying for Social Security retirement benefits is simple. You can sign up online, at SSA.gov, in person at your local Social Security office, or over the phone. No matter how you apply for benefits, it’s important to make a retirement plan.
Can I get Medicaid and Social Security at the same time?
You can have Medicaid and Social Security Income (SSI) benefits in all 50 states. However, because Medicaid is a state program, the SSI application is also the Medicaid application in 32 states.

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Sources:

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Medicare Benefits, SSA. Accessed August 2022.
    https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/
  2. Social Security Medicare, Benefits.gov Program, . Accessed August 2022.
    https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/4394

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

14 thoughts on “Understanding Social Security and Medicare

  1. Hi Lindsay I want to start collecting SS monthly $’s as of my full retirement age of 66. I don’t however need Medicare part A at this time and certianly don’t want to pay for part B &D at this time. Is this possible?

    1. Hi Pete! Yes, it’s possible to not enroll, but not advised. Medicare is not mandatory. However, even if you don’t need Part A, you should enroll as long as you’re not contributing to an HSA account. It’s premium-free and will give you extra protection. If you want to delay enrolling in Part B and Part D, you will be penalized if you don’t have other creditable coverage. If your Initial Enrollment Period has passed for Part A & Part B, you’ll have to wait until the General Enrollment Period in January to enroll. Normally, you’re automatically enrolled in Part A and B when you turn 65 if you’re collecting SSI, but I’m not sure if they will still auto-enroll you if you are over 65. I would call your local Social Security office to find out. I hope this helps!

      1. Hi Diana – you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare. If you haven’t received your card, you should reach out to Social Security to receive one.

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