Getting Medicare When You’re Married

Victoria Burke by Victoria Burke | Licensed since 2011

This article was updated on: 05/28/2019

You’re generally eligible for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) when you turn 65 or receive disability benefits, whether or not you’re married. If you’re married and haven’t worked in a paying job or didn’t work enough quarters, you may still qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A benefits through your spouse. Medicare Part B usually comes with a monthly premium.

We recommend that you enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B as soon as you’re eligible — during your Initial Enrollment Period — to avoid late enrollment penalties, regardless of your spouse’s age. The exception is if you’re covered under a spouse’s employment-based health coverage plan. Some people decide to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B, since it comes with a monthly premium. If you pay a premium for Medicare Part A, you can also delay enrollment while you’re covered under your spouse’s plan. You’ll have a chance to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B with a Special Enrollment Period once your health coverage or the employment that it’s based on ends. You may want to call Medicare (contact information below) and your spouse’s insurance company for details.

Generally, you qualify for premium-free Part A when you’ve worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) paying Medicare taxes. Beneficiaries typically pay a Part B premium. If you haven’t worked and paid taxes for that long, you may have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, depending on your spouse’s age and how long he or she has worked and paid taxes.

If you’re married and haven’t worked in a paying job:

  • If your spouse is at least 62 years old, and has worked at least 10 years paying Medicare taxes, you can enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, including premium-free Part A.
  • If your spouse is younger than 62 when you turn 65, you won’t qualify for premium-free Part A until your spouse turns 62 (if your spouse has worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years).
  • If neither you nor your spouse worked at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment, each of you may qualify for Medicare upon turning 65, but you may both have to pay a premium for Part A. If you choose Part B, you’ll also have to pay the Part B premium.

Medicare can answer questions about specific situations such as those described above. You can contact Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227, or 1-877-486-2048 for TTY users) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also visit the website.

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