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Medicare 101: An Overview

Eligibility For Medicare

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Generally, you are eligible for Medicare if you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment and you are 65 years or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. If you aren’t yet 65, you might also qualify for coverage if you have a disability or with End-Stage Renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).

Following are some simple guidelines.

You can get Part A coverage at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

  • You already get retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. 
  • You are eligible to get Social Security or Railroad benefits but haven't yet filed for them. 
  • You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

If you are under 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if you have:

You will be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 even if you are not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

If you pay FICA taxes, you should receive a statement each year which says whether you are eligible based on your work records. If you don’t get it or have questions about eligibility for Medicare Part A or Part B, call Social Security at 800. 772.1213 or visit or call your local Social Security office offsite link. TTY users should call 800-325-0778. You can also get information about buying Part A as well as Part B if you don’t qualify for premium-free Part A.


  • With respect to credits:
    • Credits are earned as follows: A worker makes payments into the Social Security System through F.I.C.A. payroll taxes. Payments become credits. The amount required for one credit varies.
    • Credits are earned at the rate of 4 per year, genearlly one credit for each calendar quarter.
    • You do not have to work a full quarter to earn a credit. It is the dollar amount rather than the length of time worked during a quarter that counts for a credit.
    • if you haven’t worked long tnough to quality – you may qualify on your current or former spouse’s work record- or you may be able to buy into the program. If you continue working until you gain 40 credits, you will no longer have to pay premiums.      
  • Individuals who are not otherwise eligible who are age 65 or older may purchase Medicare coverage by paying a monthly premium.

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