A blog about Medicare. What you and your employees need to know

Correct- Short on Medicare Work Credits?

Author: Lora Drummond

Medicare Transition Specialist

Posted: 03/29/2021

[13-52] Correct – Short on Medicare Work Credits?

Recently we held a workshop for a large group of local municipal employees. A question came up that got a lot of heads nodding….

What to do if someone doesn’t “qualify” for Medicare Part A? 

First of all, to dispel confusion in the question, we explained that to “qualify,” Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with certain medical conditions like End-Stage Renal Disease. You must also be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident (green card holder) who has continuously lived in the United States for at least five years.

What they were really asking was: What to do if they didn’t earn enough Medicare work credits for Part A (hospital insurance) to be premium-free? Can they still get it?


How does a person get Medicare Part A premium-free:

The short answer is, you can get Part A (hospital insurance) premium-free if you have worked and paid Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes equal to at least 10 years of working time. You can also qualify for premium-free Part A based on your spouse’s work history if you don’t have enough work credits yourself as long as you have been married for at least 10 years.  You would both still enroll separately, but neither spouse pays for Part A.

That work history would earn you the 40 quarters/credits necessary to get you Part A premium-free. The payroll taxes you paid while working cover your Part A premium. By the way, this is the only ‘Part’ of Medicare that your payroll taxes can earn you a free-premium for. 

If you have certain disabilities, you may be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A benefits also, even if you’re under 65 years old.


What if you and your spouse didn’t earn enough work credits?

You can still get Part A when you are 65, but you would need to pay the Part A Premium for it (as you will for Part B if you decide to add medical coverage to your Medicare plan). 

Per, if you buy Part A, your monthly premium is about $471 a month in 2021 if you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $259.

Remember, if you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or buy Medigap/ supplemental insurance, you must have Part A and Part B.

If you continue to work and pay into your payroll taxes and earn the minimum 40 credits, you might be able to eliminate your Part A premium. Some municipal employees who retire from service earlier than age 65 take other jobs just to earn the work credits needed to be eligible for premium-free Part A when they turn 65.

Need guidance on how to support your employees with other possible scenarios and helpful solutions?

Our Certified Medicare Planners® have more than 20 years of experience helping employees create Medicare transition plans BEFORE they need to enroll. We are ready to help!


Medicare guidance for your employees in 2021.

When you are short of work credits

Create a compliant Medicare benefit support plan. Give your employees personal guidance from a team of experts that will follow them after they retire.

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– Lora

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