By – Sara Thomson
Individuals who are divorced or widowed may be worried that the loss of their spouse may affect their ability to meet the requirements for Medicare. Marital status does not affect the qualifying standards for Medicare.
The eligibility for Medicare includes:
- You are a U.S. citizen or a legal resident for a minimum of 5 consecutive years
- You are at least 65 years or older or, younger than 65 with a qualified disability or, and any age with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Although marital status does not affect the qualifying standards for Medicare, it may affect your Medicare Part A monthly premium. Individuals with a “work history,” meaning they have worked and paid Medicare taxes for a least 10 years, can qualify for Medicare Part A premium-free. Even if you do not qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, the work history of your former or deceased spouse may be able to be used, under certain conditions. These conditions include being married for at least 10 years before the finalized date of marriage, or marriage for at least 1 year before the date of your spouse’s death. The cost of your Part A monthly premium is dependent upon how long your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes. Premium-free Part A is available if your former or late spouse paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (or 10 years). A lower premium of $227 a month is available if your former or late spouse paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters. A premium of $413 a month is available if your former or late spouse worked less than 30 quarters.
The standard premium for Medicare Part B for 2017 is $134 a month. Paying a monthly premium for Medicare Part B is almost always required. Those with higher incomes can be required to pay a higher monthly premium than the standard $134 a month. Some individuals who do not enroll into Medicare Part B when they become eligible may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
It is important to ask questions to get answers to your specific situation. The Social Security Administration is available to ask Monday thru Friday from 7 am to 7 pm at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).