Can I Get Medicare if I’m Still Working?

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 10/06/2018

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If you haven’t yet retired, can you still sign up for Medicare? You might be eligible for Medicare even if you’re still working. You might be interested in Medicare coverage if you have no health insurance, or feel your current insurance is inadequate – for example, if you’re:

  • Working part-time
  • Self-employed, such as a contractor
  • Sole proprietor of a business
  • Covered by an employer plan, but still want to enroll in the Medicare program

Am I eligible for Medicare if I’m still working?

You generally qualify for Medicare, working or not, if you’re an American citizen or legal permanent resident of five years in a row or more, and either of the following applies to you.

  • You’re age 65 or older
  • You qualify before age due to illness or disability. Generally, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B automatically after you’ve received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months in a row. If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), you’re usually automatically enrolled in Medicare the month you start receiving disability benefits from Social Security. You might also qualify before age 65 if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or permanent kidney failure), but you’re not automatically enrolled.

In fact, you might not have to apply for Medicare benefits at all. If you’re already receiving Social Security (or Railroad Retirement Board) benefits when you turn 65, the system enrolls you in Medicare Part A and Part B automatically.

Should I sign up for Medicare if I’m still working?

If you’re qualified for Medicare, and you’re still working, it’s up to you whether you want to sign up. Many beneficiaries don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). That’s true for you if you’ve worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes. So, you may want to go ahead and sign up for Part A, or keep it if you’re automatically enrolled.

But if you’re still working and covered by an employer or union-based health insurance plan, you might want to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Most people do pay a premium for Part B every month.

If you’re automatically enrolled in Part B, you can opt out of enrollment when you get your Welcome to Medicare packet during your Initial Enrollment Period. Be aware, though, that when you stop working, you could face a Part B late-enrollment penalty if you don’t sign up during the Special Enrollment Period that you usually get when employer coverage ends.

You may want to talk with your benefits administrator at work to make sure you have the coverage you need while you’re still working. Or, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users, call 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM, all U.S. time zones.

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  • You can follow the links below to set up a time to talk with me by phone, or to have me email you customized information about Medicare plan options.
  • It’s easy to find Medicare plan options in your area. Just click the Find Plans or Compare Plans buttons on this page.

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