Short Answer: If you are currently disabled and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 24 months or more, you are eligible for Medicare even if you’re under 65. This also applies to some recipients of disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
Once you’ve passed the 24-month mark, you’ll be enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A & B) automatically. You can then decide if you want to switch to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or add a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).
If you are under 65, disabled, and go back to work, you’ll keep your Medicare coverage for as long as you’re medically disabled. You also won’t have to pay a Part A premium for the first eight and a half years that you work while disabled.
There are a couple of exceptions for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD):
- The 24-month waiting period doesn’t apply if you have ALS—you’ll be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A & B) the same month that you begin receiving disability benefits.
- If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you’ll be eligible for Medicare no matter your age, but you’ll have to sign up by contacting the Social Security Administration. You can do that by phone at 800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or by contacting your local Social Security office.