There are three ways you can get Medicare coverage if you are under 65 years of age.
1. You are eligible for Medicare if you are a U.S. citizen or have your resident visa, have lived in the U.S. for five years in a row; and
You have a disability and have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for more than 24 months. Your eligibility begins during the month you receive your 25th SSDI check. You do not need to contact anyone. Social Security should automatically mail you your Medicare card three months before you become eligible.
Note: If you are receiving railroad disability annuity checks, whether you are eligible for Medicare and when you get it depend on how your disability has been classified by the Railroad Retirement Board.
2. You have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and you
- are getting dialysis treatments or have had a kidney transplant;
- apply for Medicare benefits (up to 12 months retroactively);and
- are eligible to receive SSDI;
- are eligible to receive railroad retirement benefits; or
- are otherwise considered to be fully insured by Social Security, as defined by the length of time you have worked and the amount of money you have made (you need a certain amount of Social Security work credits depending on how long you have worked).
Note: If you are a railroad worker with ESRD, you must contact Social Security, not the Railroad Retirement Board, to find out if you are eligible for Medicare because you have been diagnosed with ESRD.
When your Medicare benefits begin depends on the circumstance. Please click here to find out exactly when your Medicare will begin if you are under 65 and have ESRD.
3. You have been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare the first month you receive SSDI or, if you are a railroad worker, the first month you receive a railroad disability annuity check.
Note: Because Social Security and Medicare eligibility rules are complex, you should call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to get the most accurate information regarding your particular situation.