Can I Get Medicare After Retiring And Taking Early Social Security?

Early retirement can work out as long as you prepare in advance to have medical coverage until you qualify for Medicare.

Stephanie Faris

Published September 2nd, 2020

Updated December 17th, 2020

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • You can start receiving Social Security at the age of 62, but you’ll have to wait until 65 to sign up for Medicare.
  • If you have a qualifying disability, you may qualify for Medicare before reaching 65.
  • Early retirement can work out as long as you prepare in advance to have medical coverage until you qualify for Medicare.

Waiting to retire and collect Social Security can be excruciating. You’re ready to enjoy your golden years, but you have to meet the minimum age. You probably are already well aware that retiring at 62 is a possibility, as long as you’re okay with taking a reduced Social Security payment for the duration. But even though you can take early retirement, that doesn’t mean you’ve reached the Medicare eligibility age.

There are instances when you can get Medicare before you’re 65, but you’ll have to meet certain qualifications. Knowing those qualifications, along with your other healthcare insurance options, can help you successfully retire early.

What is the Medicare Eligible Age?

How old do you have to be to get Medicare? Unless you suffer from a qualifying disability, you’ll have to wait. "Who is eligible for Medicare?") until you reach the age of 65. You’ll be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital care or skilled nursing care, if you worked for 10 years or more and paid Medicare taxes on your earnings. Starting at age 65, you can also purchase Part B to cover your doctor’s appointments and other specific medically necessary services.

There’s a reason this can be confusing for many people. If you want to take early retirement, you can actually sign up for Social Security starting at the age of 62. You’ll receive a reduced amount, but you’ll begin enjoying your benefits. However, when you ask how old for Medicare, the answer is 65 unless you have a disability. So if you plan to start taking Social Security at age 62, you’ll need to have a plan for covering your medical expenses until you reach age 65.

Criteria for Enrolling in Medicare at age 62

Although 65 is the true age at which you can get Medicare, there are instances where taxpayers can get benefits before the age of 65. If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can start receiving your Medicare benefits early. You’ll likely also be approved if you suffer from end-stage renal disease.

Another important answer to what age can you get Medicare relates to your marriage. If you’ve logged the required 10 years of work, but your spouse hasn’t, your spouse may qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A once he or she reaches 65 and you’re at least 62. Even if you haven’t yet reached 62, your spouse should go ahead and enroll at age 65 to keep Part B premiums low once Medicare eligibility begins.

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How Should I Prepare Prior to Reaching the Medicare Eligible Age?

Now that you know when you are eligible for Medicare, you can start the retirement planning process. Be aware that by taking your retirement early, your monthly Social Security benefits will be reduced by a percentage for the rest of your life. This percentage can change, but currently, if you retire at age 62, your benefits will be 28.3 percent lower than if you waited until your full retirement age.

One benefit to receiving Social Security early is that you may be automatically signed up for Medicare when you reach 65. But either way, you should be aware at what age are you eligible for Medicare so that you can sign up on time. If you miss the deadline, your premiums for Medicare Part B will be higher. You can only sign up for Part B at certain times of the year.

Final Thoughts

Knowing what age Medicare starts can help you prepare to sign up when your birth date arrives. But if you want to retire before the age of 65, you’ll need to start planning in advance for healthcare coverage if you’ll no longer have employer-provided insurance.

A Certified Financial Planner® can help you line this up, as well as ensuring you’ll have money set aside to pay for any costs Medicare doesn’t cover.


Medicare Basics

Medicare Benefits

Medicare 2021

Applying for Medicare

Medicare Considerations

Medicare Taxes

Healthcare Considerations

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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