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Can I enroll in Medicare if I claim Social Security retirement benefits at age 62? 

En español | Generally speaking, no. You can only enroll in Medicare at age 62 if you meet one of these criteria:

  • You’ve already been on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for at least two years.
  • You are on SSDI because you suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. (The two-year requirement is waived in this case.)
  • You suffer from end-stage renal disease.

Otherwise, your initial enrollment period for Medicare begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday. For example, if you turn 65 on July 4, 2020, the enrollment window opens on April 1.

If you are receiving Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration, which handles Medicare enrollment, will send you an information package and your Medicare card at the start of the sign-up period. You’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (standard health insurance) in the month you turn 65.

In the meantime, consider looking into other options for health insurance to bridge the gap until you are Medicare-eligible. Depending on your financial and marital situation, these might include Medicaid, private insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace or coverage through a spouse's workplace plan. You'll find information on these options in this article in AARP's Medicare Resource Center.

Keep in mind

Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.

Updated October 23, 2020

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