Medicare is a social medical care program designed to offer health care services to senior citizens and those qualifying for Social Security Disability. It is funded by workers’ payroll taxes through the FICA program. Both workers and their employers contribute through FICA premiums.

In most cases, when you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you will also qualify for Medicare after a two year initial waiting period. In cases where you have rare debilitating diseases, you may qualify for Medicare immediately upon having your Social Security Disability claim accepted. These conditions include: Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), those needing kidney transplants, and those in the end stages of renal disease; among many others.

Once you qualify for Medicare based on Social Security Disability Insurance, you will continue to be eligible for Medicare as long as you are still considered disabled and continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Once you are no longer considered disabled, you are no longer eligible for Medicare benefits.

In some cases, especially if you qualify for SSI, you may be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. In these cases, Medicaid will often pay some or all of the premiums required for some parts of Medicare.

Whether you receive Medicare due to old age or die to Social Security Disability, there are four main parts to Medicare:

  • Part A. Part A covers hospitalization. Generally speaking, this includes emergency room visits and anytime you are required to stay overnight in a hospital. It also covers short stays in a nursing facility.

  • Part B. Part B acts much as health insurance does, allowing you visits to the doctor and related medical needs such as X-Rays, lab tests, and vaccinations.

  • Part C. Part C allows you to choose from a variety of advantage plans which are designed to lower your overall health care costs.

  • Part D. Part D covers prescription drugs.