Medicare Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications

Reaching Medicare eligibility can be confusing. Thus, understanding when you reach Medicare eligibility and what to do once you are eligible is essential. Below, you will learn everything you need to know about Medicare eligibility, requirements, and qualifications.

Find Medicare Plans in 3 Easy Steps

We can help find the right Medicare plans for you today

Medicare Eligibility Age

Generally, you must be at least 65 years old to be eligible for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). However, there are certain circumstances where those under age 65 on disability can enroll in the federal healthcare program.

If you are not yet 65, you may become eligible for Medicare based on your disability status. If you receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) checks for at least 24 months, you qualify for Original Medicare.

The Medicare eligibility age chart below reviews the qualifications, requirements, and eligibility age.

Medicare Eligibility Requirements for Under 65
Medicare Eligibility Requirements for 65+
You are a citizen of the U.S. or a legal resident for at least five years AND:
  • have a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
  • OR
  • receive SSDI checks for at least 24 months.
You are a citizen of the U.S. or a legal resident for at least five years AND:
  • paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 working quarters (10 years), so you qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.
  • OR
  • paid Medicare taxes for fewer than 40 working quarters, so you will pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A.

Who Qualifies for Medicare?

Medicare eligibility is simple. Once you meet the age or disability requirements, you will automatically qualify for health coverage through Medicare if you are a U.S. citizen or have legal residency in the U.S. for at least five years.

Also eligible for Medicare are those younger than 65, collecting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits for at least 24 months, individuals with diagnoses of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who require a kidney transplant or dialysis, and those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

What is the Maximum Income to Qualify for Medicare?

Income is not a factor in Medicare eligibility. You are entitled to coverage if you meet the basic Medicare eligibility requirements.

However, your income will affect how much you pay for coverage. If you are a high earner with an annual income over a specific limit, you will be responsible for additional premiums due to IRMAA. This amount applies to Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

You may become eligible for low-income subsidies, Medicaid, and Medicare Savings Programs if your monthly income is below a certain threshold. These programs offer financial assistance to those on Medicare with low incomes to ensure coverage.

Find Medicare Plans in 3 Easy Steps

We can help find the right Medicare plans for you today

Medicare Part A Eligibility

Many believe Medicare is free, but only Medicare Part A hospital coverage does not include a monthly premium – if you or your spouse qualify.

To be eligible, you or your spouse must have paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters or ten years. If not, you will need to buy into Medicare Part A according to how many working quarters you paid the tax.

Your premium-free Medicare Part A eligibility status is available through your account. There, you can see how many eligible working quarters you paid Medicare taxes– determining your Medicare Part A premium cost.

Medicare Disability Eligibility

Typically, you will automatically enroll in Medicare at the start of your 25th month of collecting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefit checks. However, certain circumstances do not require patients to wait for 24 months.

Those on disability because of ALS automatically start Medicare the same month their disability benefits begin. Medicare is not responsible for determining whether you qualify due to disability. The Social Security Administration oversees that decision, as they administer your SSDI checks.

If you reach Medicare eligibility due to an end-stage renal disease (ESRD) diagnosis, you must enroll yourself in Medicare. You can do so by contacting your local SSA office or completing the process online.

Medicare Part B Eligibility

If you do not qualify for Medicare before you turn 65, you will meet Medicare eligibility requirements for Medicare Part B on your 65th birthday. Additionally, you must be a citizen or legal resident of the U.S. for at least five years to qualify for Original Medicare.

Unlike Medicare Part A, Part B always involves a monthly premium, regardless of how many quarters you pay Medicare taxes while working. This premium depends on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) from two years prior.

Find Medicare Plans in 3 Easy Steps

We can help find the right Medicare plans for you today

High-income earners must pay an IRMAA. Those with low incomes may qualify for help paying their premiums. Further, low-income earners could be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid – the latter of which is on the state level.

Can I Get Medicare if I Have Never Worked?

If you have never worked, you are still eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 – if you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident of at least five years. However, you may not qualify for premium-free or reduced-premium Medicare Part A if you do not have a spouse who qualifies.

Fortunately, Medicare qualifications don’t require you to have worked in the U.S. The only perk of having enough working years in the U.S. is the potential to reduce your Medicare Part A premium. Thus, if you did not work in the U.S., you must cover the Medicare Part A premium out-of-pocket each month.

How to Learn About Medicare Eligibility

Understanding if you are eligible for Medicare is the first step to gaining Medicare health coverage. If you have questions or concerns regarding your eligibility, contact a licensed Medicare agent who can help review your plan options and guide you in the right direction regarding coverage. To get a quote for supplemental Medicare coverage, fill out our online rate form.

Enter ZIP Code

Enter ZIP Code

Enter your ZIP code to pull plan options available in your area.

Compare Plans

Compare Plans

Select which Medicare plans you would like to compare in your area.

Get Quote

Get Quote

Compare rates side by side with plans & carriers available in your area.


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. Original Medicare Eligibility and Enrollment, CMS. Accessed April 2022.
  2. Who is Eligible for Medicare, HHS. Accessed April 2022.
  3. Understanding Medicare Part C and D, Medicare. Accessed April 2022.

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and 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.

4 thoughts on “Medicare Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications

  1. I will be turning 65 later this year. My wife still works and I have medical insurance thru her. What medicare coverage do I need? I also started collecting Social Security at 62. What will happen when I turn 65? Do I need to enroll in Medicare? Do I need a supplement or can my wife’s Medical Insurance cover that?
    Not as easy as I thought it would be…


    Your email address will not be published.