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How do you qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A?

Dear Toni: I made a mistake enrolling in Medicare. My husband, Sonny, was laid off in February and lost his employer health insurance, which I was on. He is a veteran and is receiving his health care from the VA, so he did not have to enroll in Medicare.

I have enrolled in Medicare since I am turning 65 in April. But I am not sure if I enrolled properly, because my Medicare is costing me an extra $505 for Part A and $174.70 for Part B. Isn’t Part A free?

I have not worked very much since Sonny and I married 40 years ago, and Social Security said that is my issue. Please explain what I should do to correct my Medicare mistake. — Terry, Laredo, Texas

Dear Terry: No, Medicare Part A is not free. Many Americans are not aware that they must work a certain amount of time and pay employment taxes to receive premium-free Part A. This is most likely the cause of your problem.

To qualify for Part A at no cost, you must have worked and paid Social Security and Medicare taxes from your payroll check for 10 years, or 40 quarters. For 2024, if you paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, then the standard Part A premium is $278 each month. If you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters, the premium for Part A is $505 each month.

However, those who do not qualify for premium-free Part A but who have been married for at least 10 years to an individual who has met the 10 years/40 quarters requirement should apply for Medicare under their spouse’s Social Security number. Terry, you should have applied for Medicare under Sonny’s account.

My advice would be to contact your local Social Security office. Ask for help to appeal your Part A premium of $505, because you have been a stay-at-home spouse but your husband has worked enough quarters to qualify for premium-free Part A.

Social Security will look over your husband’s Social Security accounts and verify with the IRS that he has enough quarters to qualify. Be prepared to provide a certified marriage license (not a copy) to Social Security.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.

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