The short answer? Yes. You can access Social Security benefits without enrolling in Medicare. Read more for details from our advisors.
Social Security and Medicare are not the same. Because of the close relationship between them, people often get these two programs confused. Although there are connections between Social Security and Medicare, they are actually two separate government programs.
Social Security: A government pension for people age 62 or older and those with chronic disabilities.
Medicare: A federal program that provides health insurance to individuals 65 or older or those with certain conditions or disabilities.
Many Social Security recipients are also eligible to receive Medicare benefits and vice versa. See below for more on how the two programs compare.
If a person is collecting Social Security when they turn 65, they are automatically enrolled in Medicare. Likewise, if an individual collects Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for more than 24 months, they become eligible for and are automatically enrolled in Medicare.
You can begin drawing Social Security benefits starting at age 62 if you have paid Social Security taxes and worked for 10 years or more. Individuals who have not worked for at least 10 years may still be eligible for a monthly benefit based on a current or former spouse’s work history.
If you have certain disabilities and meet the criteria set by the Social Security Administration, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income and/or SSDI regardless of age.
In order to be eligible for Medicare, individuals must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident for at least five consecutive years. You must also meet at least one of the following criteria for Medicare eligibility:
Both programs require initial enrollment to be processed through the Social Security Administration. When an individual first enrolls in Medicare or if they need to defer Medicare coverage (for example, to go back on an employer plan), they would do so through the Social Security Administration.
If you decide to begin drawing your Social Security retirement benefits when you are first eligible at age 62 (and you don’t already receive SSDI benefits), you will not receive Medicare coverage until age 65, when you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare – Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).
You must keep Medicare Part A if you’re receiving Social Security benefits, however, you can defer Medicare Part B if you have other creditable coverage that meets Medicare’s standards, such as employer coverage.
If you are eligible for Medicare, you may enroll in Medicare without accessing Social Security benefits.
Certain Medicare premiums can be deducted from an individual’s monthly Social Security benefits.
If you are enrolled in both Medicare and Social Security, your Part B premium will automatically be deducted from your monthly Social Security benefit payment.
If you are enrolled in Medicare but are not yet drawing your Social Security benefits, you will be billed for your Part B premium quarterly by Medicare. You can pay your premium electronically or by mail.
Medicare Part D standalone drug plans charge a monthly premium that varies based on the specific plan. This premium is separate from the Part B premium. Insurance companies bill you directly for the Part D monthly premium, but you can contact your insurance company to have your payment deducted from your Social Security benefits.
If you have questions about Social Security or Medicare, we have a team of licensed advisors who are here to help!
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