My husband and I are both over 65 and on Medicare. We're still working and not yet receiving Social Security. We have a disabled daughter who lives in a group home and has had Medicaid since she was 18. When can she get Medicare? Is it true that she must wait until one of us collects Social Security?


It's a little more complicated than that.

To be Medicare-eligible, your daughter must have collected a Social Security disability benefit for two years. Based on what you say, she'll qualify for that benefit because she's a disabled adult child whose disability began before she turned 18. But an adult disabled child can't collect a benefit based on her parent's earnings until that parent is either receiving Social Security or deceased.

Your best plan is for the parent who turns 66 first -- let's say it's your husband -- to file for Social Security a month before his birthday and at the same time apply for disabled adult child benefits for your daughter, says Linda Lauria, a Social Security Administration spokeswoman. Her disability benefit based on his earnings is 50 percent of his full retirement benefit during his lifetime, and 75 percent of his full retirement benefit after his death. His retirement benefit won't be affected.

At 66, he can work while collecting his full Social Security benefit regardless of the amount he earns. Or if he wants, he can keep postponing his benefit, which grows 8 percent a year for up to four years of delay. Since he'll be at his full retirement age when he applies, says Lauria, he has the option to file for his retirement benefit -- thus greenlighting your daughter's disability payments -- and immediately suspend his application.

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The bottom line Regardless of age, a person qualifies for Medicare after he or she has collected Social Security disability benefits for two years.

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