| You may be 65 years old and ready to enroll in Medicare, but unless your spouse has a disabling medical condition, your mate won’t qualify until age 65.
That’s because Medicare doesn’t operate like health insurance that you may have through your employer. It’s not a family plan. Your spouse can qualify for premium-free Part A based on your work record if he or she hasn’t paid 40 quarters of federal payroll taxes. But you both will start your Medicare coverage separately, usually based on age.
People eligible for Medicare can sign up during their seven-month initial enrollment period, which begins three months before the month they turn 65 and lasts for three months after their birthday month. The coverage begins no earlier than the month they turn 65. For those whose birthday is on the first of the month, coverage starts at the beginning of the previous month.
Some ways to get Medicare before age 65
Anyone with a disability may qualify for Medicare before age 65. Most people younger than 65 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can get Medicare 24 months after they become eligible for disability benefits.
For anyone with permanent kidney failure, known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Medicare’s 24-month waiting period is waived.
What can I do to get medical insurance for my spouse?
If your insurance plan at work now covers both of you, you need to consider your options carefully before you transition fully to Medicare, because your spouse won’t have medical coverage. Consider these ways to bridge the gap.