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Medicare Disability: Enrollment for disabled Americans
If you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits (a monthly benefit to help replace lost wages that result from your permanent disability) you may also qualify for Medicare Disability to cover your medical expenses.
Most people will need to begin collecting Social Security Disability two years before they are eligible to enroll in Medicare Disability. The two-year wait does not apply to everyone.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability and Medicare Disability benefits
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a condition that has left you permanently disabled - meaning you cannot work for a period of twelve months or longer - you can apply for Social Security Disability through the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov. You must have worked a Social Security-qualified job; that is, you will have paid Social Security taxes, to be eligible.
Also, to be eligible, your medical condition must prevent you from performing your normal job function, and you cannot find a suitable replacement position or new line of work because of your age, education levels or physical limitations. If you do not continue to follow your doctor's recommended treatment plan to improve your condition, you may be disqualified from Social Security Disability benefits.
Usually, you must collect Social Security Disability benefits for at least 24 months to enroll in Medicare Disability. Some people may enroll right away. Here's when and how to enroll based on various disability situations:
You are diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease
If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease), you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) in the first month that you begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B (medical insurance) if you live within the 50 United States or District of Columbia. You will have the option to refuse the automatic enrollment to Medicare Part B if you already have medical insurance. If you need prescription drug insurance, you will have to enroll in Medicare Part D manually.
You have been collecting Social Security Disability benefits for 24 months
You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Disability Parts A and B beginning the 25th month after you first received your Social Security Disability benefits. Exceptions include those who do not live in any of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or if you have ESRD.
You can apply manually for Medicare Part D if you want prescription drug insurance. Apply for Medicare Part D as early as three months before the 25th month of your Social Security Disability. Your coverage will begin in July of that year.
You have End-State Renal Disease (ESRD)
If you have ESRD (also known as kidney failure) you must enroll in all parts of Medicare Disability manually. To do so, log on to www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly/ or call 1-800-772-1213. You can also visit your local Social Security office to enroll in Medicare Parts A, B and/or D.
You have seven months to enroll beginning the first month that you receive Social Security Disability benefits.
You live outside the 50 United States and DC
If you do not live within the 50 Untied States or Washington D.C., but you do live in a U.S. territory (for example, Puerto Rico) any qualified automatic enrollment will be limited to Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). You will otherwise have to enroll manually when you become eligible. Enrollment in Medicare Parts B and D is always manual.
You can enroll online at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly/, by phone at 1-800-772-1213 or at your local Social Security office.