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Can I qualify for Medicare at 65 or older if I haven’t applied for Social Security retirement benefits?

Although age 66 is now full retirement age for Social Security benefits, you still qualify for Medicare at age 65 if you meet the conditions for eligibility. (For those conditions, see the answer to the question “How do I qualify for Medicare?” elsewhere in this tool.)

Medicare enrollment is not tied to Social Security retirement benefits. You can apply for Medicare at age 65, or at any later time, depending on your circumstances. You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits at any age from 62 onward. Many people wait until they reach full retirement age at 66 (when they’re entitled to full benefits) or postpone their application until age 70 (which maximizes their benefit payments for future years).

Be aware that if you’re entitled to Medicare at 65 and are not receiving health insurance from an employer for which you or your spouse actively works, you would be risking delayed coverage and permanent late penalties if you waited until full retirement age to enroll in Medicare.

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