There are three ways to become eligible for Medicare benefits:
First, if you are 65 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen or a resident who has lived five consecutive years in the U.S.
Second, if you have been receiving Social Security Disability income for 24 months with no age restrictions.
Last if you have end-stage renal disease or have had a kidney transplant, once again with no age restrictions.
You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B if you are receiving your Social Security benefits at the time you turn 65, and you will receive your Medicare Card about three months before your 65th birthday.
If you are receiving Social Security Disability for 24 months you will then be enrolled automatically to Parts A and B of Medicare beginning in your 25th month of disability.
When you turn 65 and decide not to receive Social Security, you must enroll yourself into the Medicare system. There is a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period surrounding your 65th birthday; three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and three months after your birthday month. If you missed enrolling during that seven-month period, you may enroll during the next General Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period runs from Jan. 1 to March 31 each calendar year.
You have the option to decline Part B, but penalties may apply if you decline Part B or if you failed to apply during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period.
There are two parts of Medicare. One is Part A (hospital coverage) and the second is Part B (medical coverage). For 2014, generally there is no charge for Part A. There may be a penalty applied for receiving Part A if you missed or declined enrollment when you became eligible at age 65. For 2014, there is generally a charge of $104.90 for Part B. As your income level starts to rise above $107,000 annually, your Part B premium also rises.