Americans reaching the age of 65 are entitled to health insurance (called Medicare) through the Social Security insurance program. In addition to the elderly, this program also provides insurance to younger Americans that are disabled. In 2011, Medicare paid out over $182 billion for inpatient care for recipients.
Currently, there are over 30 private insurance companies participating in the Medicare program. The program itself covers four separate areas of need: drug plans, health plans, hospital insurance, and medical insurance. To receive these benefits, the applicant must have paid into the system during his or her “working” years. Earnings “under the table” do not count towards this benefit.
Individuals that are disabled and under the age of 65 and anyone receiving SSDI benefits will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. Upon turning 65 or after having received benefits for 24 months, these individuals will receive a Medicare card via mail (the card should arrive approximately 90 days after this date). ALS sufferers automatically receive benefits (Medicare Parts A and B) immediately upon activation of their disability benefits. All others must apply for Social Security benefits, including Medicare Parts A and B benefits.
Upon becoming eligible for Medicare, applicants have 7-month enrollment period. If the individual misses this enrollment period, he or she can enroll the following year between January 1 and March 31. This is what is considered the “general enrollment period” for all individuals eligible to receive benefits. Upon approval, coverage will begin effective on the first of July after the general enrollment period. In some cases, exceptions are given for enrollment, but a social security disability attorney should be consulted in these cases.
Individuals are enrolled in Medicare programs through Social Security Administration (SSA). This is not to be confused with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which merely manages the program. If an individual wishes to apply for coverage on his or her own, this can be done via the Social Security Administration website. He or she can also call the offices or apply in person at his or her local SS office.
Since all Americans are entitled to this benefit, it is wise to apply for Social Security Disability benefits upon eligibility. Barring special circumstances, any individual should be able to sign up online within minutes. If there are special circumstances, you may want to consult with a Social Security disability lawyer to ensure your application is processed smoothly.