Who Can Apply for Medicare?


Quick Answer

Any U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident may apply for Medicare. However, eligibility revolves around the applicant’s age, disability or health status and work experience.

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Full Answer

The basis for Medicare eligibility centers around the applicant’s age. Individuals 65 years of age or older are eligible for benefits if they are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents, and they or their spouses worked for at least 10 years in the United States.

If the work requirement is not fulfilled, eligibility can still be granted if the individual pays a premium for hospital insurance (Part A), outpatient services and doctor visits (Part B) and/or prescription drug coverage (Part D). Individuals who are 65 years of age or older can enroll in Part B without purchasing Part A; however, if they do not purchase Part A, they must enroll in Part B. Medicare benefits under Part D are provided if the individual enrolls in either Part A or Part B. Eligibility may be granted to individuals under the age of 65 if certain criteria are met.

Those younger than 65 can apply for and receive Medicare benefits if they have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for a minimum of two cumulative years. Medicare benefits may also be granted to individuals under the age of 65 if they suffer from Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or permanent kidney failure that requires a kidney transplant or regular dialysis.

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