Can I receive Medicare from my husband's job before he has access to it?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 04, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am not eligible for Medicare from my own (teaching) job as Social Security was not withheld. I will, however, receive benefits through my husband's work. He is ten years younger than I am, will I then not be able to start Medicare when I am eligible as he will not yet have accessed his own benefits?

Expert Answers

There are three different parts of traditional Medicare -- Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (medical coverage) and Part D (prescription drug coverage), and the answer is different for each.

First is the simplest and best news: You're eligible for Medicare Part B, which covers doctors and other outpatient care as soon as you turn age 65, if you're a U.S. citizen (or legal resident and living in the country for the past five years), regardless of your own or your husband's work record or Social Security taxes paid. And because you're eligible for Medicare Part B, you're also eligible to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Like everyone else, you'll have to pay a monthly premium for Part B, and another premium for a Part D plan if you enroll in one.

Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility, is a little more complicated. To be automatically (meaning, without having to pay for it) eligible for Medicare Part A, someone age 65 or over must qualify for Social Security retirement, dependents, or survivors benefits OR retirement, dependents, or survivors benefits from a civil service retirement system. So, if your work as a teacher makes you eligible for a public employee retirement benefit, that might also qualify you for Medicare eligibility. Check with the human resources or retirement benefits office of your school district or teacher's union to find out whether you qualify for Medicare under their retirement system.

If you're not eligible for Medicare Part A based on eligibility for a civil service retirement benefit from your own teacher's job, you'll become eligible for Medicare Part A based on your husband's employment as soon as he's eligible for Social Security retirement benefits when he reaches age 62. You'll then be eligible for Social Security dependents benefits based on your husband's work record, and this will qualify you for free Medicare Part A coverage WHETHER OR NOT he actually claims retirement benefits then, and WHETHER OR NOT you actually claim dependents benefits.

If you aren't eligible for Medicare Part A on your own work record and your husband isn't yet age 62, you may enroll in Medicare Part A at age 65 but must pay a monthly premium for it -- $248 or $450 per month, depending on how many Social Security work credits you or your husband has. If you have or can get less expensive inpatient hospital insurance through your husband's work, this may not be worth it to you. However, if you have no other hospital insurance, this may be a good, even though expensive, alternative until you're eligible for free coverage.