Question of the Month: Do You Automatically Get Medicare Benefits If You Are Eligible For Disability Benefits?

Everyone eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is also eligible for Medicare, but the Social Security Administration requires a 24-month waiting period. After you have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months, the Social Security Administration will enroll you in Medicare. They start counting the 24 months from your first month of entitlement to a disability payment..

During this qualifying period for Medicare, you may be eligible for health insurance through a former employer or you may be able to get benefits through Nebraska or Iowa Medicaid—a jointly funded, federal-state health insurance program for low-income and needy people. There are a few exceptions to the 24-month qualifying period. For example, individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and chronic renal disease may be able to get Medicare earlier.

Those who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in Nebraska and Iowa (and 30 other states and the District of Columbia) are also eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility starts the same month as SSI eligibility. Nebraska uses the same rules to decide eligibility for Medicaid as SSA uses for SSI, but requires the filing of a separate application. (You can apply online here) Iowa does not require a separate application. When you apply for SSI at the district Social Security office, you are also applying for Medicaid.

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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