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Medicare Eligibility for Spouses & Eligibility After a Divorce

Medicare and spousal benefits, as well as benefits after a divorce, may surprise you. A former marriage may qualify you for Medicare benefits. Many individuals are eligible for Part A through a former spouse, even though they never worked. Depending on the situation, you may qualify for coverage through an ex. Here’s what you should know.

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Medicare for Divorced Spouse

The Social Security Administration requires you to meet specific criteria to qualify for Medicare benefits from a divorce. Qualifying for Medicare is different than Social Security benefits. You can be eligible for your spouse/ex-spouse Social Security benefits at age 62, and you won’t qualify for Medicare until age 65. Of course, you may be eligible for Medicare sooner if you have End-Stage Renal Disease or disability for at least two years.

If you’re 62 and your spouse or ex-spouse is 65, you CANNOT use their Medicare benefits for eligibility. You must wait until the age of 65 to qualify unless you’re eligible through disability.

How to Qualify for Medicare After Divorce

If the following situations apply, you may qualify for Medicare after divorce:

  • Your ex-spouse is at least 62 years old and eligible for Social Security.
  • You must be currently unmarried.
  • You’re at least 65 years old.
  • You were married for 10+ years.

Medicare Part A benefits are free when you, a current or former spouse, have at least 40 calendar quarters of work or ten years of work history paying into Social Security.

Spouse and Ex-Spouse Eligibility for Medicare

There’s no family plan for Medicare; plans are individual. Meaning, your spouse’s eligibility may not match yours.

For those currently married: Your spouse must be at least 65 years old, and you need to be married for at least a year.

Those currently divorced: As long as you’re single after being married for at least ten years to a spouse eligible for Medicare, you’ll qualify.

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If you’re widowed: If after at least nine months of marriage, your eligible spouse dies and you’re single, you may qualify for premium-free Part A benefits.

There are always exceptions to eligibility; if you’re unsure about your premium-free Part A benefits, call the Social Security office.

The Medicare-eligible spouse can’t be under 62; if this occurs and you don’t qualify on your own accord, you must pay Part A premiums until your spouse is 62.

Medicare After Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse can change many aspects of your life, including health policies. If you get benefits under your spouse’s retirement plan – coverage may change after they pass away. If you lose Medicare coverage due to the death of a spouse, you become eligible for a Special Election Period; but, that period doesn’t last forever.

Social Security surplus helps fund the deficit to help those in need of survivor benefits or those on disability.

It’s your responsibility to enroll in a new policy as soon as possible to ensure eligibility. If you recently lost a spouse and your Medicare policy, please call an agent at the number above to start discussing your options.

Can a Non-Working Spouse Qualify for Medicare?

Yes, as long as the working spouse worked enough quarters and you’ve been married for at least one year.

What happens with my Medicare eligibility if there are multiple marriages and divorces?

You may only collect from one ex. Eligibility depends on the length of marriages and other factors. Your marriage status and if your former spouse is alive can affect your eligibility. When you’re unsure, call the Social Security Administration.

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Getting Help with Your Medicare Coverage After Divorce

Things can get messy after a divorce, and you may not know what your options are for Medicare. Also, Medicare and Social Security can be challenging to understand.

Some people worry about Medicare or Social Security running out of funds. But, the National Committee of preserving Social Security and Medicare won’t let that happen.

And, when you have any questions about Medicare or your coverage options, we’re here to help you along.

Give us a call at the number above for more information on help with costs. Can’t call? We get it, fill out our online rate form, and get your quote today.

Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare educator serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.

54 thoughts on "Medicare Eligibility for Spouses & Eligibility After a Divorce"

  1. Hi, I turn 65 in May but do not have enough credits on my own for premium free Medicare part A, my husband has enough credits but won’t turn 65 until 2024. Can I get Medicare under my husband and if so do I have to wait until he turns 65?

    1. Charlay, you are eligible for Medicare through your spouse if they are at least 62 years old (you must be 65) and they have enough credits for premium-free Medicare Part A.

  2. If I am drawing my deceased husband SSI. Can I get any kind of help with health insurance. I am 61. Thank you

    1. Mary, this depends on the amount of SSI you are drawing and what your monthly income/resource amounts are. Drawing your husbands SSI does not disqualify you from these programs.

  3. Hi. I lost my husband to cancer last year. He was 57, had been working up until shortly before his death. We were married 21 years. I was told by my local SS office that I could collect my husband’s SS at the age of 60 and to apply at 59 1/2. I am currently 57. My husband carried me on his insurance, so I lost my coverage when he died. I knew I needed insurance so I bought an individual medical policy. It is quite expensive. I’m wondering when I would be eligible for Medicare? Prior to our marriage, I worked outside the home for over 20 years, contributing to SS.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sheila, I am sorry to hear about your loss. You will become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. Your Medicare Part A and Part B will become effective on the first day of your 65th birth month.

  4. I am 69 and currently have Medicare and a Medigap plan. My spouse is 57 and uninsured because of loss of employment. My employer offers group health coverage which I would like to take in order to get her covered. If I opt in for my employers plan (we have more than 20 employees) what happens to my Medicare coverage?

    1. Hi Greg – you could temporarily waive your Part B, disenroll from Medigap, and enroll in your employer’s plan. It is creditable for Medicare, so you won’t have penalties when you pick up Medicare again. However, keep in mind that you will need to answer health questions and go through medical underwriting if you wish to pick up another Medigap plan when you re-enroll in Medicare, which could result in denial from the plan of your choice – depending on your location.

  5. I am 44 my boyfriend is retired SSI and has Medicare I will be losing all of my benefits SSI and medicaid when we get married we’ve already looked into this. But will I be able to receive medicare benefits? We’re concerned how I will get care, I have alot of health issues.

    1. Hi Malissa – if you are 44 and are not collecting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), you are ineligible for Medicare unless you have ALS or End-Stage Renal Disease.

  6. Hi, Mr. Esch, My husband retired from the VA last year. We both currently receive Social Security benefits. We are paying monthly to continue our health insurance which is BCBS Federal. He turns 65 in July 2022 which makes him eligible for Medicaid. I will only be 63 then.
    If he discontinues his federal insurance will I have any Medicare options or will we have to continue to pay for the federal insurance for two more years until I turn 65? Thank you so much for your time.

    1. Hi Lisa – unfortunately, your husband turning 65 before you and becoming eligible for Medicare has no effect on your eligibility status. So, until you become eligible, you will need to keep your current coverage or find new coverage through another option, like the Marketplace.

    2. Hi, Mr Esch, My question is can I receive Medicare through my ex husband eligibility. We were married for 11 years and divorce for 20 years . I’m 62 and never remarried and ex spouse is 67 years old receiving Medicare

      1. Hi Diana – because you have not remarried and you were married to your former husband for over 10 years, you should be eligible for premium-free Part A based on his quarters if he has at least 40.

  7. Hello,
    My wife of 8 years, is 67 and collects SS and has Medicare Parts A & B. I worked in a job that did not pay into SS, so I do not have enough working credits on my own. I will turn 65 in just over year. Am I eligible for premium-free Part A Medicare based on my wife’s employment history? The only information I can ever find, says I “may” be eligible. Also, if I am able to obtain Part A based on her employment, would I lose it, if god-forbid, she were to pass away? Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Mike – if you are married to your wife for over a year when you enroll in Part A, you’ll receive the coverage premium-free for as long as you are on Medicare. Widowed individuals must have been married nine months prior to the death of their spouse and not have remarried to receive the premium-free coverage.

  8. Hi
    I turned 65 in May and applied for Medicare, but was turned down because I didn’t have the required work history. My husband and I separated last year and plan to divorce. We’ve been married 48 years. He is 66, retired and on disability for the last 2 years. Do I have to pay for Medicare part A? If yes, will the finalized divorce change that? If not, Will i qualify for free part A at any age?

    1. Hi Sandy! You just have to give Social Security a call and let them know you’re eligible for premium-free Part A due to your husband’s work credits. Even though you’re separating and getting a divorce, you’re still eligible for premium-free Part A until you remarry.

  9. Hi. I’m 75 & a retired civil servant. I’ve never paid into Social Security. I’m getting divorced after 10.5 years. Can I collect Social Security & free Medicare on my ex’s (83 years) account?

      1. Hi Dan, your pension will not impact your benefit from your ex-spouse. However, it would be reduced if you chose to collect it early.

  10. My mom recently lost her husband of 30 years, he was 69 and receiving SSI benefits, they were covered through his small job as far as medical insurance. No life insurance, no will. My mom is 74, does not work and needs medical insurance, she is now living with my wife and I. What is the best next step?

    1. Hi Kyle. I’m so sorry to hear your mom recently lost her husband. You would need to reach out to her husbands’ employer and have them complete form CMS L564 to show proof of creditable coverage to avoid any late penalties. Create an account on the Social Security website for her where she can apply & upload the necessary forms. Her dashboard will show the status of her application as it’s processing.

  11. Hello, I just turned 62, and have received full widows benefits for two years- because I am a heart patient due for a procedure but was delayed because of Covid- am I eligible for Medicare or other medical benefits ?

  12. Hello, I am 70 and divorced, and have been collecting SS benefits through my ex-husbands SS retirement benefits account. I have Medicare Part A since 2016, and applied for Part B in May, after my ex-husband retired, ending my health insurance supplied by his employer. As of 7/15/21, I still have not received Part B activation. This has been very very upsetting because I need Part B activation in order to apply for a Medicare Advantage plan. Every time I call SS or Medicare I am told a different story. Yesterday SS told me I needed to have applied for Part B under my husband’s SS account, because I receive retirement benefits from him. Is this correct?

    1. Hi Cheryl! I’m sorry you’re getting conflicting information. It’s difficult for me to give you a straightforward answer without knowing more but I will do my best! Did you create an account on mymedicare.gov to check the status of your Part B enrollment? You would not apply for Medicare under your ex-husbands Social Security account. What you would need to provide is a document from your husbands’ benefits administrator that shows you had creditable coverage for Part B. Otherwise, you will be penalized for delaying Part B. I think the first step is to log into your mymedicare.gov account, if you don’t have one create one. Then check the status there. There should also be a place to upload the documentation for creditable coverage. Have you by chance checked your Social Security check deposit to see if the Part B premium has been deducted at all? If so, then you have Part B. The representatives at Medicare are really hit or miss.

  13. Hello, This is all great info. I am 59 and disabled. I have had Medicare A since 2004 and am in the middle of a divorce after 41 yrs of marriage. I may possibly get a small alimony check each month for a short period. I’m in Mo. and will still have a low income. Is Alimony counted as income when applying for Financial help with Part B and Supplement costs?

    1. Hi Cheril! You would need to contact your local Medicaid office to find out what your state’s income limits are.

  14. I am 59 years old. I was married 14 years. My ex is deceased. I was told that I was able to get Medicare under his name if I was unmarried. I am a teacher so I don’t have my own benefits. Is there an age that I can get remarried and it won’t hurt my Medicare benefits. When I visited my local social security office I was told that at age 60 I could remarry. Is this true?

    1. Hi Amy! As long as your a U.S. citizen, you’re eligible for Medicare at 65 years old regardless of your marital status. The only thing a marriage would do is make you eligible for premium free-Part A if you did not work at least 10 years yourself in your lifetime and paid into Medicare. If you’re a teacher, you’ve most likely been paying Medicare taxes. You may be thinking of Social Security benefits, which is not the same as Medicare.

  15. I was to sign up for Medicare today but I sadly found out my past employers have not contributed anything to help me. About 20 years ago I got divorced after 17 years of marriage and 3 kids. Since the divorce she was able to get a great full time job after I had put her through college twice (2 bachelor degrees). Question #1, would I be able to collect Medicare A+B through her now since she now has more than 40 quarters and is 64 years of age? Now since that divorce we both have remarried and I am now happily married for the past 21 years. My current wife has 40+ quarters but she won’t turn 62 until next March. I believe I am entitled to Medicare A+B at that time, True??? Going back to my first question am I entitled to Medicare A+B under my first wife until I am registered to my current wife next March? Hope this is not confusing!

    1. Hi Bob! If your current wife has paid enough quarters, you can get Medicare once you turn 65. You do not need to wait until your wife is 65 to enroll. You can enroll now. I hope this helps!

  16. My husband is drawing SSI. I do not qualify for SSI. He receives Medicare as do I through him. We both pay Medicare premiums as his SSI does not cover the costs. When he dies, will I continue to be eligible for Medicare?

    1. Hi Susan! As long as you’re a US citizen and either 65 years old or have been collecting disability income for at least 24 months, you’re eligible for Medicare. If you’re referring to Part A, in the case your spouse passed away, and you earned premium-free Part A due to them paying into Medicare enough quarters, you will still be eligible to get Part A premium-free as long as you don’t remarry. You can contact your local Social Security office to confirm.

  17. I’m not sure how to ask this but my ex-spouse of @28 years. Currently is on SSDI (been on it for @ 18 years) with medicade and is turning 65 this month. Has asked me for my social security number to apply for medicare. Said it has to do with the fact that not having enough quarters. She never worked out side of being a companion and parent. How will this affect my medicare that I have at the present since I am 65 and on disability. We have been separated for @ 18 years. I am presently married with a spouse soon to be 65. I would like to see, get what ever medical help needed, due to the issues at hand blindness and diabetic issues.

  18. My wife passed at age 62 last year and I am now receiving her deceased spousal SS benefits. I am 62 as well and turn 63 mid 2021. At what age can I also apply for Medicare benefits under her spousal survivor benefits? My FRA is 66 Yrs 8 months and I plan on waiting to draw my own benefits at that time. Didn’t know if I could draw the Medicare health benefits earlier or not. I have COBRA for one more year and am not back to work as of yet, so my planning for that event (1Q 2022) comes into play then. Thx much.

    1. Hi Jim! You cannot enroll in Medicare early. You’re only eligible when you age in at 65 or after collecting SSDI for 24 months. You can’t enroll in Medicare under her spousal survivor benefits, that’s separate from Medicare. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  19. Hi I getting a divorce and I am currently collecting Medicare under my husbands name, I am 63. I am currently covered by my husbands employer, (retirement), but my husband is on Medicare, he is 68. Can I apply for health coverage beforeafter the divorce since my medical coverage will be severed, or do I have to wait till I am 65? How soon do I have to apply if I can? What if the divorce isn’t final until after the enrollment period?

    1. Hi Sharon! Medicare is individual, you cannot collect it under your husband’s name. You’re probably covered by his retirement plan, then he is covered by the same retirement plan and also has Medicare. You as an individual are only eligible for Medicare if you’re 65 or have been collecting SSDI for 24 months. You will have to wait to apply for Medicare until you turn 65. The divorce will not impact or change when you should enroll. Regardless if the divorce is final or not when your turn 65, you will want to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period. I hope this helps!

  20. I’m 63 and have been declared disabled since late 90’s due to an accident. My question is would my wife be able to receive Medicare benefits when she turns 62?

    1. Hi Robert! Your wife is only eligible for Medicare if she has been collecting SSDI for at least 24 months or when she ages in at 65. Your eligibility does not make your spouse eligible. You may be thinking of Social Security income, which is separate from Medicare. Some people can start collecting SSI at 62, but not Medicare.

  21. I will be 65 in December but work full time with all health benefits and do not plan on retiring anytime soon. I was married for 23 years and my ex-husband’s income is significant as he is a physician. I was told I have a choice of either collecting my Medicare or half of his… which ever is greater? I just spoke with a Medicare Rep and he didn’t know anything about it. Please advise.

    1. Hi Lucia! You would need to call your local Social Security office to figure out the details. Social Security benefits related to divorce can be specific to your state. You cannot collect a portion of his Medicare, you may be thinking of Social Security income. Even if you’re still working, you should enroll in Part A since it’s premium-free. As long as your employer has more than twenty employees, your coverage is considered creditable. So you won’t need to enroll in Part B. It makes sense to compare your premiums with Medicare premiums, you might find out it’s cheaper than your employer group coverage premiums assuming they don’t pay them for you. I hope this helps!

  22. My former spouse turns 65 in November. I don’t turn 65 until next August. I have health insurance through my employer, and pursuant to the divorce agreement I am required to continue to cover my former spouse. The health insurance company said there is no issue for them to continue to cover her after she turns 65. My questions: (1) does she have to sign up for Medicare now, or since she is covered under my plan can she wait until I have retired? (2) Even if she doesn’t need Part B or Part D because she is covered under my plan, should she sign up just to have Part A? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jeffrey, great questions! 1) She does not have to sign up for Medicare now. As long as she has creditable coverage, she won’t be penalized. Your employer coverage is considered creditable as long as they have more than 20 employees. 2) Yes, since Part A is premium-free, it makes sense for her to enroll now. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

  23. I am an SSDI recipient in the process of divorcing my husband. I am 45, and currently covered under my husband’s group health insurance plan provided through his employer. I have Medicare Part A, but elected not to received Medicare Part B, due to my coverage under my husband’s plan. When we are divorced I plan to apply for Medicare Part B within the special enrollment period. I do not want a lapse of my insurance coverage. My question is, can I apply following my divorce without a lapse in coverage, or should I apply for Part B prior to my divorce. I am uncertain if I meet the special enrollment criteria if I apply while married; I am not certain if it’s the divorce that triggers my ability to meet the special enrollment criteria. Your insight is appreciated

    1. Hi CK! You would need to know the day your current coverage is ending. From there you have 63 days to enroll in Part B under a Special Enrollment Period. You need to get proof from your ex-husbands’ employer that you maintained creditable coverage the entire time you were eligible to enroll in Part B so you’re not penalized. The form needed is L564. We have a great article on employer and Medicare coverage as well as how to apply for Medicare and Medicare for those on disability that should be informative for you. I hope this helps!

  24. I have signed for Medicare part A only in May 2020. as I am covered under my wife’s employer plan for which we pay the premium. However, Hypothetically speaking if for any reason I get separated from my wife and i need Medicare Part B At thAt time would I need to pay penalty to get it. …. or is there a penalty free enrollment period after such an eventuality. your response will be appreciated.


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