Medicare, Social Security, and Disability

If you have begun to receive social security benefits for disability insurance, it is high time you start thinking about signing up for Medicare plan. In many cases, if you receive disability benefits, you will be entitled to Medicare two years after you start receiving benefits. In some cases it is even earlier.

Who qualifies for disability benefits?

Roughly speaking, adults below the age of sixty-five, must be either disabled or blind and receive benefits under tight financial circumstances. In addition, they must be prepared to demonstrate this by allowing the federal government to examine their financial records and stay in the United States to apply.

According to the Social Security Institute, the disability must last longer than 12 months (or be life-threatening) and prevent you from performing essential work.

Lastly, you have to prove that you have been working of late and for a good number of years.

Can anyone get Medicare before the two-year mark?

Certain government employees and their dependents, persons with Lou Gehrig syndrome (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), and those with permanent kidney failure are eligible for Medicare before they reach the two-year mark for social security disability benefits.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985, gives workers and their family members the right to receive health benefits 18 months after their employment ceases. For disabled employees, an extension of 11 months may be added if requested in advance for the Social Security Administration to process their claim. After 29 months, the 2-year waiting period for Medicare and the 5-month waiting period for disability benefits will end. However, keep in mind that you often have to pay a much higher premium during the disability extension.

Can I buy a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy?

The federal law does not compel insurers to sell Medicare supplement policies to anyone below the age of 65. However, 28 states have enacted laws that require insurers to sell Medicare Supplementary plans to disabled adults. Get a 2019 AARP advantage plan at

For more information, contact your state insurance office as these laws vary. If your age cohort enters open enrollment at the age of 65, you would need to purchase a new Medicare Supplement policy, as you have access to more plans with lower premiums.

If you are disabled and receive social security benefits, think about what type of Medicare insurance is right for you. This can be confusing for many people.

Disabled people who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits receive Medicare, and those who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) receive Medicaid. However, until 2 years after their claim date, SSDI beneficiaries are not eligible for Medicare benefits.

For SSI recipients to qualify for Medicaid, there is no period of waiting.

If a disabled person is approved for SSI in most states, they will automatically be eligible for Medicaid benefits. There are some states, including Ohio and Illinois that are not affected by this rule. These states may have a lower income or lower capitalization for the Medicaid program than the SSI program, hence, they will make their own Medicaid provisions.