Key Takeaways

  • Most people over age 65 are eligible for Medicare

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident for at least 5 consecutive years

  • Certain people under 65 may be eligible for Medicare, if they meet certain specific criteria

Most people are eligible for Medicare when they reach the age of 65. Some people who are younger (ages 18 to 65) and have certain disabilities that prevent them from working can also get Medicare. To qualify for Medicare Parts A & B (Original Medicare), the following criteria must be met. 


  • United States citizenship OR 
  • Legal permanent resident for at least 5 consecutive years.  


  • Age 65 or older, OR 
  • Over 18 and under age 65 AND meet one of these conditions: 
    • Have received Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) for at least 2 years, OR 
    • Have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), AND 
      • Are starting to get Social Security disability. Usually, you can get Medicare the 6th month after Social Security found that your disability started, OR 
    • Have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease, sometimes called ESRD, AND 
      • Have been on dialysis for 3 months OR 
      • Have had a kidney transplant.