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

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

  • You have 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, 2024, the enrollment window opens on April 1.

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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.

Keep in mind

If you are not yet on Social Security when you turn 65, you will need to enroll in Medicare yourself. You can do so online, by phone at 800-772-1213, or by visiting your local Social Security office. Local offices fully reopened in 2022 after being closed to walk-in traffic for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Social Security recommends calling in advance and scheduling an appointment to avoid long waits.

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