Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits early is very important. The sooner you apply, the sooner you can start receiving the benefits you are entitled to. One important benefit is qualifying for the federal Medicare program.
But understanding your Medicare plan options can be confusing. It's important to review your options to ensure you're getting the level of coverage you need at a cost you can afford. You should know:
- People with disabilities become eligible for Medicare 24 months after receiving SSDI; sooner in some instances.
- Medicare has 4 primary parts. The coverage, costs and enrollment vary.
- Medicare Part A (hospital insurance - part of Original Medicare)
- Medicare Part B (medical insurance - part of Original Medicare)
- Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage
- Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
Qualifying for Medicare
While many people think of Medicare as health insurance for those who are 65 or older, Medicare is also available
to those under age 65 who have received SSDI benefits for 24 months. However, due to the five-month waiting period from the start of the disabling condition for individuals to qualify for SSDI benefits, Medicare coverage cannot start sooner than the beginning of the 30th month after the start of the qualifying disability.
SSDI beneficiaries with specific conditions may qualify for Medicare sooner. This includes people with:
- ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease - you qualify for Medicare the first month SSDI benefits are received.
- End-stage renal disease or kidney failure - you qualify for Medicare after the third month of dialysis treatments.
- A kidney problem in which you receive a kidney transplant - you qualify for Medicare in the month you receive the transplant.
A Medicare card is automatically mailed to you once you become eligible for Medicare benefits.
Understanding the Various Parts of Medicare
To better understand Medicare basics, features of each Medicare program are compared in the chart below.