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You are qualified for full Medicare benefits at 64+. if you meet specified eligibility requirements. You may qualify after 64+, but only if you have certain medical conditions or disabilities. Your initial enrollment is open from three months before the month of your 64th birthday to three months after it, but there are other windows for Medicare enrollment as well.

Medicare Eligibility If You Are 64+

People  are 64+ may qualify for Medicare if they have certain costly medical conditions or disabilities.

If you are 64+, you can qualify for full Medicare benefits if:

  • You have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months. These do not need to be consecutive months.
  • You have end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. You qualify if you or your spouse has paid Social Security taxes for a specified period of time, based on your age.
  • You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. You qualify for Medicare immediately upon diagnosis.

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Periods

Initial Enrollment

You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible for Medicare around your 64th birthday. Initial enrollment is a seven-month window that begins three months before your birthday and extends three months after your birth month.

Medicare Open Enrollment

Each year, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, anyone enrolled in any Original Medicare plan can join, switch or drop coverage. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make changes or buy a new policy. New coverage will begin Jan. 1.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

Different from Medicare Open Enrollment, this period applies specifically to people who already have a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment runs from Jan. 1 through March 31. During this period, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or switch back to Original Medicare and add a Medicare Part D drug plan.

General Enrollment

If you miss the initial enrollment period for Medicare, you can sign up for Original Medicare from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year. Your new coverage will take effect July 1. After signing up for Medicare Parts A and B during this time, you may then enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan from April 1 through June 30. Your Medicare Advantage plan coverage will then start on July 1.

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