Reaching retirement age is quite the achievement, and along with the personal fulfillment often found in your golden years, you also get to take advantage of some very useful health benefits. Medicare is a federally-funded health insurance program that is administered by each individual state. The original intent of Medicare was to provide a way for seniors and retired persons to alleviate the sometimes-high costs associated with aging in the United States.

Today, Medicare is used by hundreds of millions of Americans to pay for healthcare expenses and offset the cost of prescription drugs. Medicare provides coverage for inpatient care, outpatient care, durable medical equipment and a lot more, but the program does have some restrictions regarding how old you need to be in order to begin receiving benefits.

What is the Age for Medicare Benefits?

The age for Medicare benefits in most scenarios is 65, although you may qualify under that age due to disability. If you’re turning 65 and are new to Medicare, you can apply during a seven-month period known as your Initial Enrollment Period. These months encompass the three months prior to your birthday month, your actual birthday month and the three months following your birthday month. All of these months are within the year you turn 65.

At any time during these seven months, you can apply for Original Medicare. If you apply for Medicare outside of the Initial Enrollment Period, you may be subject to late enrollment penalties. Once you’ve enrolled in Part A and Part B, you have the option of getting your benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan as an alternative to Original Medicare.

Can You Receive Medicare Benefits Under 65?

Despite Medicare’s role in providing healthcare coverage for Americans 65 and over, some people who are under the age of 65 can take part in Medicare based on certain qualifying disabilities. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are likely eligible to apply for Medicare. There is a 24-month waiting period to apply after you have begun receiving SSDI unless you can receive an exception waiver to get the process started earlier.

If you qualify for Medicare through disability, age is not factored into your application. This means that you can be under 65 and qualify for Medicare in some situations, and your age will not affect your benefits; however, if you were to lose your disability status in the future, benefits would be halted, and you would not be considered for eligibility again until you reach age 65.

Related articles:

Do I Qualify for a Special Enrollment Period?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Retiring under the age of 65? Understanding Your Medicare Benefits(Opens in a new browser tab)