How Do You Qualify for Medicare?

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Qualifying for Medicare and being eligible for Medicare essentially mean the same thing: You’ve passed a legal hurdle that allows you to receive Medicare benefits. Don’t worry; you don’t have to take a test to qualify for Medicare. You don’t have to go before a judge or take part in some formal ceremony. But you do have to meet certain conditions required by law.

Very broadly, you must meet one of two conditions:

  • You’ve reached your 65th birthday (or will reach it very soon) or are older than 65.

  • You’re under 65 but have disabilities that are officially recognized and meet the requirements for Medicare coverage.

Within these two categories are several other conditions that may or may not affect you, depending on your specific circumstances. You also can find options for health care if you don’t immediately qualify for Medicare at 65, are a few years short of 65, or are stuck in that two-year limbo in which most people who are under 65 and disabled must wait for Medicare coverage.

If you’re in the least unsure about your eligibility, read through the details, because your chances of qualifying for at least some Medicare benefits may be a lot higher than you think.

The 65th birthday is a big milestone. But whatever else it may mean for the generation of baby boomers whose mantra was once “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” turning 65 comes with a valuable birthday present. For most people, it’s their passport to guaranteed health coverage under Medicare.

Still, nobody qualifies for Medicare just by reaching 65. You also have to meet certain other conditions, according to your circumstances.

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