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Do I automatically receive Medicare if I qualify for disability benefits?

En español | In most cases Medicare coverage begins at the beginning of the 25th month after you began receiving Social Security disability benefits. The 24 months need not be consecutive. For example, if you received benefits for a few months, then lost eligibility but qualified again at some later date (even years later), all the months in which you received benefits would count toward the 24-month waiting period. 

The two-year waiting period may be waived in two circumstances:

  • If you have permanent kidney failure — known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and defined as needing regular dialysis or a kidney transplant — you may qualify for Medicare within one to three months. The start of Medicare coverage depends on what kind of care you need (dialysis or a kidney transplant) and whether you have coverage under an employer plan. For details, see the official publication “Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis & Kidney Transplant Services” at
  • If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), you must apply for Social Security disability. Your Medicare coverage begins at the same time as you start receiving disability benefits (usually five months after your disability application has been approved). 



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