Can I Get Medicare if I Retire Early?

Most folks qualify for Medicare at age 65. You can choose to retire early or late (or not at all), but it won’t change your eligibility date for Medicare. But what happens with Medicare if you go into early retirement? If you’re leaving the workforce before age 65, you’ll need to find private senior health insurance.

At CoverageCoach, our goal is to provide candid, unbiased answers about your most common Medicare questions. Early retirement is one of our most popular topics. So with this article, we’re going to cover some Medicare enrollment basics and dive into early retirement and Medicare.

Early Retirement & Medicare Enrollment Basics

  • says “Some people get Medicare automatically, and some have to sign up. You may have to sign up if you’re 65 (or almost 65) and not getting Social Security.”
  • To qualify for free Medicare, you must have earned wages and paid into the program.
  • If you didn’t work outside the home — perhaps you were a homemaker — you can still purchase Medicare. It won’t be free.

If you are on SSI — receiving a “Social Security Check” — you should automatically receive benefits. But nothing is perfect, and sometimes people slip through the cracks! So if you’re on SSI and haven’t received Medicare enrollment information by your 65th birthday, it’s time to take action. Don’t worry. You have three months to get it done.

The 7-Month Medicare Enrollment Window

The Medicare Enrollment window is seven months, surrounding your 65th birthday.

  • It begins three months before the month you were born
  • Includes the month you were born
  • And lasts three more months

After that, there are specific times when one can change a Medicare plan or enroll in additional senior health insurance plans, like Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Drug Plan (Part D) or Medicare Advantage plans. Again, if you’re retiring early, before age 65, you’ll need to find private senior health insurance.

Special Enrollment Periods For Medicare Advantage & Medicare Drug Plans


Open enrollment occurs every fall. From October 15 – December 7, you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan or drug plan. Your coverage starts January 1 of the new year, as long as the plan gets your request by December 7.

The General Enrollment Period. If you have Part A coverage already and sign up for Part B during this period, you can also join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan. However, it’s important to know that your coverage may not start until July 1.

There is also a Special Enrollment Period. If you retired late, at age 66 for instance, and kept your employer-funded health insurance past your 65th birthday, that’s okay. You can still enroll in Medicare immediately when you retire. We’ve written more about this topic here.

So, what’s the deal with early retirement and Medicare? Again, you’ll need to find private senior health insurance if you retire before you’re 65.

Need to Learn More About Medicare and Early Retirement?

If you need to know more about Medicare, Medicare Enrollment Periods, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Plans, get in touch. The crew at CoverageCoach is here to provide you with a zero-cost, zero-pressure consultation. We’d be happy to explain your enrollment periods and get you started with Medicare. Let’s talk!

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