If you did not work enough in your lifetime to get Social Security benefits, but your spouse did, you may be eligible for free Medicare Part A based on your spouse’s work history when you turn 65.

If you develop a disability before the age of 65, and do not have enough work history, you cannot qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) based on your spouse’s work history.

When you turn 65, you may be eligible for free Medicare Part A based on your spouse’s work history if:

  • You are currently married and your spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits (either retirement or disability). In addition, you must have been married for at least one year before applying.
  • You are divorced and your former spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits (either retirement or disability). In addition, you must have been married for at least 10 years and you must be single.
  • You are widowed and you were married for at least nine months before your spouse died. In addition, you must be single.

Note: After the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was not legal, there were changes to Medicare and Social Security for same-sex spouses. You can now be eligible for Medicare based on the work history of a same-sex spouse.

Because Social Security and Medicare eligibility rules are complex, and there are some exceptions to the rules listed above, you should call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or, if you are a railroad worker, contact your local Railroad Retirement Board field office to get the most accurate information regarding your particular situation.