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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.

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.

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.

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 & 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.

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.

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.

Lindsay Engle

Lindsay Engle is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Medicare Eligibility for Spouses & Eligibility After a Divorce

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Hi, I am a permanent resident from Canada, moved here in 1994 and divorced in 2016. I worked just 5 years while here as a preschool teacher. I know I am eligible for SS but am I eligible for Medicare?

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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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