Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).

Medicare has two parts, Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medicare Insurance).  

Part A is automatic at age 65 for workers receiving or enrolling for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.  A Medicare card is mailed to Social Security recipients automatically, usually about three months prior to the 65th birthday.  

Many government employees not covered under Social Security are also included in the Medicare program.  Government employees who have accrued the requisite 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment are entitled to benefits at age 65; however, the person must apply for the benefits; the person is not automatically enrolled. Persons that delay receiving Social Security benefits beyond full retirement age must also apply for Medicare.  

You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

• You are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.

• You are eligible to receive Social Security or Railroad benefits but you have not yet filed for them.

• You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

If you (or your spouse) did not pay Medicare taxes while you worked, and you are age 65 or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you may be able to buy Part A.  For persons purchasing Part A, a penalty of 10 percent, based on the amount of the Part A premium, is assessed for each month the person delays enrolling from the first date of eligibility.

While most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A, everyone must pay for Part B if they want it. This monthly premium is deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or Civil Service Retirement check. If you do not get any of these payments, Medicare sends you a bill for your Part B premium every three months.  There is a permanent penalty for delaying enrollment in Part B past the first enrollment opportunity.  The premium is increased by 10 percent for each 12 month period of delay in applying.  

If you have questions about your eligibility for Medicare Part A or Part B, or if you want to apply for Medicare, call the Social Security Administration or visit their web site . The toll-free telephone number is: 1-800-772-1213.

Article adapted from questions and answers support center.  

Editor’s Note: Melanie B. Bradford is an attorney located in Scottsboro, Alabama at 803 Garland Ferry Road at the intersection of Veterans Drive and Garland Ferry near The Daily Sentinel. Her phone number is 256-259-3301. The Alabama State Bar requires any communication that may be interpreted as an ad to state: “No representation is made about the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

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