You may be able to meet the requirements for Medicare health insurance even if you are younger than 65 years old. If you are under the age of 65 and have a qualifying condition, you may be able to enroll in Medicare early. The Medicare program is available to you regardless of age if you have any of the conditions discuss below.

A disability. You can automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B after 24 months of disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security. You should get your Medicare health card three months before your 25th month of receiving disability payments. 

How to Sign Up for Medicare Before You Turn 65

Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). You can get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically when your disability benefits begin. You should receive your Medicare health card in the mail the same month you sign up for disability benefits. 

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). You must have worked at least 10 years or have received 40 work credits to enroll in Medicare with End Stage Renal Disease. Work credits are earned by working in a job that paid into Social Security taxes. You will have to apply for coverage, as enrollment is not automatic unless you already qualify because of a disability.

To enroll with ESRD, contact the Social Security Administration. 

If you do not have a disability or another qualifying condition, you will need to wait until you meet the age requirement. However, you can get coverage a little bit sooner if you sign up when you first meet the requirements instead of waiting. 

There is a seven-month enrollment period when you meet the requirements to sign up for Medicare health plans. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period. As long as you are 65 at the time of applying (or apply in the month when you turn 65), you can receive Medicare coverage on the first day of the month after you apply.

However, you must apply sometime in the seven-month special enrollment period, unless you have qualifying circumstances that prevented you from applying.

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If you already have Medicare Parts A and B, you may apply for a Medicare Advantage Plan during the Open Enrollment Period, which will run from October 15 to December 7 each year. If you have Medicare Part A, you may apply for Part B or a Medicare Advantage Plan during the General Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31 each year.

Click to the next slide to learn about Medicare enrollment periods.

Updated on 04/22/2024