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Can I Get Medicare Part B When I Turn 65 If I Am Disabled and Only Have Part A? Can I Get Any Other Kinds of Medicare If I’m Disabled?

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If you’re disabled and received Medicare Part A before age 65 but did not accept Part B at that time, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B when you reach your 65th birthday. You will receive a new Medicare card showing the Part A entitlement date based on disability and the Part B entitlement date based on aging into the program.

You will receive the card about three months prior to the month you turn age 65. You won’t have to pay a late-enrollment fee for Medicare Part B, but you will be responsible for paying the Part B monthly premium if you choose to keep that coverage. The package you receive before your 65th birthday will explain how you can decline Part B if you don’t want it.

Keep in mind that you need to be enrolled in Medicare Part B to qualify for certain Medicare plan options, such as Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance. If you delay Part B enrollment, you might face a late-enrollment penalty when you enroll later on.

To qualify for Medicare, whether by age or disability, you must be an American citizen or permanent legal resident of at least five years in a row.

Medicare options for those under age 65 with a disability

If you’re under age 65 with a disability and receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) for 24 straight months, then you will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.

There are some other situations where you may qualify for Medicare before age 65:

  • If you have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), then you will automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B on the month that your SSA or RRB disability benefits begin.
  • If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you may qualify for Medicare, but you’re not enrolled automatically. Contact the SSA (information below) to apply for Medicare.

Once you qualify for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you may want to consider additional or alternative Medicare coverage. For example, you can receive your Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance company that contracts with Medicare. There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans, and in addition to providing your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, many plans offer additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. You continue paying your Part B premium, as well as any Medicare Advantage plan premium.

Not every Medicare Advantage plan accepts applicants with ESRD. Those with ESRD may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan tailored to that disease, provided one is available in your coverage area. There may be other exceptions, so call any plan you’re considering and ask if it would cover you.

If you need prescription drug coverage, and you’re not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, you can sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan once you have Medicare Part A and/or Part B and live in the plan’s coverage area.

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