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Benefit eligibility age varies for Social Security, but not Medicare

Q: Does the age for starting Medicare change with Social Security full retirement age?

A: No. The age to start Medicare remains 65 even though Social Security full retirement age (FRA) varies with year of birth.

Most people enroll in Medicare at age 65 even if retiring when older.

Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, including those with disabilities and those with permanent kidney failure.

To begin Medicare coverage when first eligible, apply within three months of reaching age 65, but before the month you turn age 65.

People receiving Social Security retirement, survivors or disability benefits before age 65 do not need to apply for Medicare. They are automatically enrolled when eligible.

You can file your Medicare application online at if not retiring.

There is no monthly premium for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) since you already paid for it by working and paying Medicare tax. There is a monthly premium for Medicare medical insurance (Part B) so people have the option of turning it down.

This is especially important if you are covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse's current employment.

If you do not need Part B at age 65 because of employer coverage, you can later enroll in it without penalty or delay.

Read Medicare, at, or available from any Social Security office. Medicare coverage information is at

Consider filing for Medicare Only online at It takes as little as 10 minutes at your convenience, and is easy and secure. If filing online is not for you, call the Social Security national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or your local office to make an appointment.

Did You Know? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the standard 2013 Medicare Part B premium will be $104.90 per month. Some people pay a higher premium. More information is at

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at