What are the options for those who qualify for Medicare due to a disability?
Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65 years old, but an increasingly large number of people become eligible for Medicare due to a disability.
The Medicare disability benefit is activated after someone qualifies for social security benefits due to disability and has completed a two year waiting period from the date of being awarded Social Security disability status.
Unless disability is due to an event that resulted in a large legal settlement many people who qualify for Medicare disability find themselves without the ability to work and may be in poor financial shape.
Often when one becomes disabled and is unable to work, they may draw down their savings while they are engaged in the long process of qualifying for disability benefits. The situation is often compounded by losing health coverage from a former employer or the inability to pay premiums for individual health insurance.
Those with Medicare disability benefits may have an option to purchase a Medicare supplement and stand alone Part D drug coverage. Most Medicare supplement policies are individually underwritten, so taking advantage of the open enrollment period will be very important.
Insurance companies can set rates, and rates for those under 65 with Medicare are often higher that rates for those 65 or older. Just as rates are higher for an 80 year old than a 65 year old due to greater insurance risk, companies will often charge those who are disabled and under 65 a higher premium due to higher risk. Because of the cost for a Medicare supplement, many people with Medicare disability benefits will not be able to afford this option.
Medicare Advantage plans are a good fit for people with Medicare disability benefits
As long as you have Parts A and B of Medicare and live in the Advantage plans’ service area you can enroll in an Advantage plan. When someone becomes eligible for Parts A and B, no matter at what age, they will have a special enrollment period and will not have to wait for the annual enrollment period that runs from October 15th through December 7st of each year.
An Advantage Plan is a good fit for those people with Medicare disability benefits who are on a limited income. Checking the available plans on the official Medicare website is a good place to start. Those eligible for Medicare due to a disability may qualify for a special needs plan or a plan for those that are dual eligible, having both Medicare and Medicaid.
If beneficiaries are on a limited budget, they may be able to enroll in a plan that does not require a monthly premium. A good example would be AARP MedicareComplete. This is one of many plan choices, but for those on a limited income it is a good option to look at.
Whether you are interested in a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan, if you qualify for Medicare disability benefits, you need to take advantage of your special enrollment period and make a choice.