Generally, people become eligible for Medicare coverage at the age of 65. However, there are two circumstances in which you can get coverage at 62, or even sooner. In some cases, coverage will begin automatically. If not, you must enroll yourself by submitting an application to the Social Security Administration.
You automatically become eligible for Medicare health insurance at 65. It's available to American citizens or legal permanent residents who have worked a sufficient number of years. You may also qualify if you or your spouse worked for or retired from the government and had Medicare deductions taken from each paycheck. You also qualify for Medicare based on your spouse's record if you're at least 65 and your spouse is 62 or older and has worked a minimum of 10 years.
Qualifying With Disability
You are automatically enrolled in Medicare once you have received either Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for two years. For example, if you are 62 and began receiving disability benefits at 60, you qualify for Medicare. On the other hand, if your benefits started at age 61, you aren't Medicare-eligible until you turn 63. People who have been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, are eligible for Medicare in the same month they get disability benefits.
Qualifying With Renal Disease
People with end-stage renal disease also qualify for Medicare regardless of age. End-stage renal disease is permanent kidney failure, and a person must have a kidney transplant or routine dialysis to stay alive. People with end-stage renal disease must enroll themselves in Medicare.
Enrolling in Medicare
If you're 62 and were automatically enrolled in Medicare due to disability benefits, you will get your insurance card in the mail. No additional action is needed on your part. People with end-stage renal disease must submit an application on the Social Security Administration website, at a local Social Security office, or by phone at (800) 772-1213. Social Security will need that person's complete medical history, including hospital records, clinical and laboratory findings, and physicians' treatment notes.