Q. My husband hadn’t worked long enough to qualify for Medicare when he reached 65, so he waited to enroll on my work record when I turned 65. Now he must pay a Part B late penalty. Can you really be penalized for not joining Medicare when you weren’t even eligible for it?
A. Strangely enough, yes — in certain circumstances. It can happen under a little-known rule that could catch many people unaware.
The Social Security Administration, which administers Medicare enrollment, explains that someone who doesn’t qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A is nevertheless eligible for Part B at age 65 if he or she lives in the United States and is either a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant (green card holder) who has lived here for at least five years. They describe this as an “alternate requirement” for Medicare eligibility.