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Medicare isn’t only for people who retire after years of working. Anyone can apply, as long as he or she is a U.S. citizen or a legal resident for at least five years, and meets one or more of the following requirements:
- Age 65 or older
- Under age 65 with a qualifying disability
- Has end-stage Renal Disease
Yet one of the most commonly asked questions is: Can my non-working spouse get Medicare? The short answer is: Yes, if he or she meets the above requirements. But there is more to it than that.
When you’re employed, you pay Medicare taxes through payroll reductions. To quality for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage at age 65, you’ll need to have worked and paid taxes for at least 10 years.
If you qualify, your non-working spouse may also qualify at age 65 based on your work record. Additionally, you’ll both qualify for Medicare Part B coverage, but each of you must pay a monthly Part B premium.
Of course, many spouses turn 65 in different years. So what happens when one of you becomes eligible for Medicare before the other?
If Your Spouse is Younger…
You should enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, whether or not you are still working. Your decision to enroll in just Part A or in both Part A and Part B will depend on your individual situation.
Your spouse will need other health insurance until he or she turns 65 and becomes eligible for Medicare.
If you continue working, you may be able to provide your spouse with health insurance through your employer. If you’re retired, your employer may offer additional options for younger spouses of retired employees.
You spouse also has the option of purchasing coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace until he or she turns 65.
If Your Spouse is Older…
Your spouse may be eligible to receive Medicare based at age 65 based on your work record –even if you’re not receiving Social Security or Medicare yourself.
However, this is only an option if you are at least 62 years old, the age you become eligible to receive Social Security benefits.
If your spouse is covered by your employer-sponsored health insurance, he or she may choose to enroll in premium-free Medicare Part A until you retire. Part B can be added later without penalty as long as it’s at least as good as what Medicare provides.
If your spouse is more than three years older, he or she can buy Medicare Part A until you turn 62 and the premium-free benefits are available. The Part A monthly premium will cost $411 in 2016.