Q: I robbed the cradle and married a guy three years younger than me. This may be coming back to haunt me! I will be 65 this December. And he won't be 65 until December 2013. He is still working and doesn't plan to apply for Social Security until he is age 66. I have never worked outside the home and was planning to get Social Security on my husband's record once he files for Social Security himself.
But lately I've been worried about Medicare. Can he give me some of his Social Security credits so I can receive Medicare? If not, can I buy those credits? Someone else told me that I can buy Medicare coverage directly when I turn 65. Or if none of those plans work, do I have to wait several years until my husband is 66 to obtain Medicare on his record?
A: Before I answer your questions (and I've got some good news coming for you), I've got to give some background information to help you and my other readers understand the eligibility rules for Medicare.
There are two basic parts to Medicare. Part A provides coverage of in-patient hospital bills. It's paid for by Medicare taxes deducted from your paycheck when you are working. And just like Social Security coverage, you usually need 10 years of work and tax payments to qualify for Medicare Part A. If a person hasn't worked long enough to be insured, he or she could get Part A on a spouse's record IF the spouse is eligible for Social Security. And if a person doesn't qualify for free Part A coverage in one of the ways I just described, anyone 65 or older can buy Medicare hospital insurance. But the premiums can be rather steep, running as high as $461 per month.
Part B of Medicare, which covers doctor's visit, lab fees and other medical expenses, is not covered by Medicare taxes. It's paid by monthly premiums that are either deducted from your Social Security checks or billed quarterly if you're not getting Social Security. The premium is currently $110.40 per month for most people. So once we get you free Part A coverage (I said the good news is coming), you'll still have to buy Part B Medicare.
Now to answer your questions. No, your husband can't transfer some of his Social Security credits to your record in order to make you eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Nor can you buy the work credits you need to make you insured for these programs. The only way you can receive these credits is by working and paying Medicare taxes. You could buy Medicare Part A coverage when you turn 65 as I explained above, but that won't be necessary.
Why? Because here is your good news. You will be eligible for free Part A Medicare coverage on your husband's record, even though he is not yet getting Social Security and Medicare himself.