How Does A Green Card Holder Become Eligible For Medicare?

For green card holders – or legal residents of the United States who aren’t US citizens -, Medicare and its eligibility requirements can be a confusing topic. For legal immigrants, there’s good news for some, and bad news for others. So, how does a green card holder become eligible for Medicare exactly? Let’s take a closer look at Medicare’s eligibility requirements.

Medicare Eligibility Requirements For U.S. Workers

For off, know that eligibility requirements pertaining to Medicare can vary state to state. Generally, though, Medicare is only available to those that have paid Medicare taxes as part of their employment in the US, and that typically equates to having worked at least 40 quarters. Typically, to meet Medicare’s eligibility requirements, you must either work 10 years to get the benefit OR be able to draw it from your spouse who have worked for more than 10 years.

Medicare Eligibility Requirements For Non-Workers

If legal residents (non US citizens) HAVEN’T worked in the U.S., there MAY still be a possibility to “buy in” to Medicare (differs state to state) provided that they’ve resided in the United States for five continuous years or more, and are, of course, 65 years or older. In these select cases, though, premiums are much higher compared to what US citizens would pay. To be concise, actual work history decides how much Medicare recipients have to pay for their health coverage.
come citizens.

Green Card Holder Requirements

So, how does a green card holder become eligible for Medicare?

1. Work in the U.S for at least 40 quarters, provided that FICA taxes are withheld, a portion of which is set aside for Medicare contributions,

2. Reside in the U.S. for at least five continuous years.

3. In regards to the legal residents that have NO U.S. work history, applicants are usually required to “buy-in” to the plan by paying the higher Medicare premium associated with Part A of the Medicare program.

52 Responses to “How Does A Green Card Holder Become Eligible For Medicare?”

  1. Zlatomir Vergiev says:

    Dear Mam/Sir
    I am US citizen , my mom is green card holder and 65 old.
    Can she apply for any Medicare benefits.

  2. Kartheg says:

    If your mom hasn’t worked in US, then she is only eligible to buy into Medicare after 5 years of residence.

    However you might be able to get Medicaid by using the sponsor’s income and your mom’s income. Most likely the sponsor’s income would not qualify for aid.

  3. EWN says:

    My mom is not 65, she will be a permanent resident soon. However, she does have ESRD (end stage renal disease that requires dialysis). I’ve reviewed the eligibilty rules on Medicare’s site so many times and still cannot figure out if she would be eligible for Medicare or not. Does she also have to live in the US for 5 years BEFORE she can buy in to Medicare?

    Thank you.

    • SJ says:

      Hi, I have almost the same situation with you. Did your mom immigrate to usa with ESRD? I was wondering how she is now and how she can get medicare or some private insurance.

  4. MLRA says:

    My Mom is 81. She has been a legal resident since 2007 however in 2009 I was transferred to Germany and she moved with me. We are back now in the US in Arizona and have been stationed here for a year now. This adds up to 3 years total living in the US. She is not my dependent as far as military is concerned but I am her caretaker. She has poor eye site and should not be living by herself so therefore she has to move with me whereever the military sends me. Can she qualify for medicare now/buy in. She is starting to have more medical issues.

    • Keith says:

      You should make an attempt to get her into DEERS and covered under your Tri-Care for now. Military bases will care for her under as long as you are active duty and the hospital/clinic can accomodate. Smaller bases, like at MacDill, may only provide ancilliary services whereas larger bases, like Fort Bragg may provide full services due to their size. As you are military you are considered differently as far as residency is concerned. She is your dependent so wherever she lives with you you should be considered living in the US so it should be continuous (5 years by now I imagine). I went through all this as well but my mother is in DEERS. She should be able to buy in to it now….I would at least make the attempt.

  5. jw says:

    My mom is a Canadian citizen I am American. She is getting forgetful and is soon in need of care. If I bring her here to look after her she looses ohip (health insurance). I need to be able to buy into medicare so she will come here. She won’t if she does not have medical insurance. I can’t leave her alone in a nursing home. Travel insurance won’t cover her since she has had a heart attack and breast cancer. I can cover premiums but not a 250000 hospital bill. Need some ideas.

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  8. olga says:

    I want to petition for my mom who si a Colombian citize, I am US citizen by marriage to an American Citizen. My mom is 74 years old, never been in the US , therefore she never worked in the US. I have read that she will qualify for Medicare ater 5 years of living here in the US, my question is in the meantime during this 5 years what kind of health insurance she can get because her age she will need to pay a very high premium, imposible to paid.

  9. Jun says:

    What does “continuous stay” in the US for five years mean exactly? Does that mean the immigrants cannot leave during the stay? Or if they leave US and come back (say, after six months), they have to subtract the six months from the total stay within the US?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Lily says:

      How to Calculate Continuous Residence

      The five-year “continuous residence” requirement means that you have not left the United States for a long period of time during the five years prior to your application for naturalization. If you leave the United States for too long, you may interrupt your continuous residence.

      If you left the United States for six months or less, you are OK. You still maintain continuous residence;
      If you left the United States for more than six months, but less than one year, you have broken your continuous residence unless you can prove otherwise. You need to provide additional documents;
      If you left the United States for one year or more, you almost certainly have broken your continuous residence. The time you spent before leaving the U.S. will not count toward meeting the five-year requirement. This is true even if you have a re-entry permit.
      If you left the United States for one year or more, but returned within two years, the last 364 days (1 year minus 1 day) outside the U.S. actually count toward your time in continuous residence. However, as mentioned above, the time you spent before leaving the U.S. does not

  10. Jun says:

    What does “continuous stay” for five years mean? Does that mean the immigrant cannot leave the states during the stay? Or can they leave for a short period of time (say, 3-6 months) and come back, but have to take out the time spent outside of the us from their total stay?

    Thank you very much.

  11. tom says:

    I am a american born citizen who is qualified for medicare. i married a columbian woman (age 64) who has her green card. she received her green card in 2008. does she qualify for medicare a and b?

  12. sharon says:

    My mom not work US and 2006 to 2011 she lived here, She left US to China 3 times and she was always before 6 months came back. Right now, she live china, she want come back. Can she qualified for medicare?
    Thank you very much!

  13. Brian Coulthard says:

    I am a retired Legal Alien with a SS number and green card My age is 72 and have lived in the USA and been married to a USA citizen for 6 years
    My wife is in full time enployment. her age is 49.
    I don’t really understand whar medicare is really about.
    I am eligible for medicare and if so could you explain how I go about applying for it.


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  15. Dan T says:

    I am a U.S. citizen, born and bred, with a long working history. I am aged 55 and starting to wonder about my wife. She is not a U.S. citizen. She has a 10 year Green Card (renewable permanent residency). She to-date has no working history. We have been married for 5 years. She has lived in USA for 5 years (New Jersey). She does not speak, read or write English and I am concerned at her age 56 she will not qualify for Medicare and then I cannot afford to pay her medical bills (if any at that time).

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  18. I think reside in the US for five continues years and working for 40 quarters is the same thing, i mean the time period for both of them is probably same !

  19. Effat says:

    My grandmother went to USA last October & got green card too. but then she got a major heart attack & surgery in New york. She was not feeling comfortable there & come back to Bangladesh 4 days ago.Now i want to know will government still give her the medicare & social expenses while she is not there & does her local guardian can collect it?

    • kelly lewis says:

      no care outside US is covered……..
      medicare is only available to PURCHASE if
      you have been a legal resident five years. No
      one ever pays your “social expenses.” If your
      grandmother is not in the US, there will be no payment.

  20. klap says:

    my mom have green card and she work from 20009 to 2012 and then she put resign to work and went to india and now she came back and she have a probleam with her eyes and she dont have insurance before she have from work but now she dont have it and she is not able to work is there any way i get medicare or medicaid or any insurance for her through goverment ?

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  22. jolomi says:

    Dear Sir
    complement of the season? how are you hope everything is Fine.Thank God well i just need your help I want to travel to your country to work and live there I don,t have a family there or relative there I am sponsoring myself both the ticket ,etc I don,t know any company there please can you help me provide a jobs there for me to work and live right now I lost my parents and I am the only person they have I need to take care of myself please if you can help me I will be grateful Thank you although I worked in a car companies as a sales manager i am now working in a courier companies as a shuttle .please I just need a temporary residence also I don,t mind any unskilled work available Thank you I will be expecting your reply

  23. val says:

    jolomi, which sir are you reffering to? Your post sounds like spam
    On the other hand, we all would not mind a temporary residence, any unskilled work available and so on…
    Go on Google and look on USCIS website, all information about immigration is there

  24. sick of deadbeats says:

    Nice tell people how to drain our taxes a little more without paying for it.people who expect to get paid without earning it make me sick. They are why we owe other countries so much money.

  25. sajal says:

    My father is 61 years old.He is a lawful permanent resident since 2010.He has not worked in usa.He is in NY state.Is he eligible to get old age allowance?What is the eligibility to get old age allowance in NY state,USA?

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  28. yadab says:

    My dad and mom are both above 65 and they are coming to USA in few month. I am active US Army member and US Citizen. and I want to cover them medically as long as they stay here with me. Can they get approval for medicare? or is there any way army cover them medically?

  29. yadab says:

    They are coming as green card holder.

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  32. Norah says:

    My mother is 87 years old good health she is going to become a citizen in couple of months,she would like to know if she is available to get medicare and how much will cost her.thanks Norah

  33. Diane says:

    My husband is a Canadian citizen – he has a green card and has worked in the US for 20 years – is he eligible for Obamacare?

  34. Tracey says:

    I’m 45 and a usa citizen and my mom is a canada citizen but use to work in the usa for 19 years can she get health insurance in the usa

  35. Karen says:

    My mother in law just recently become us citizen and she only 63 yrs old . She is diabetic for over ten year already . And now she live with me in tennessee . The question is there are any benefit that she might qualify ( for example: Medicare or food stamp…)can u help me to answer my question . Thanks

  36. Robert Rothstein says:

    my daughter- in – law is a 24 year old woman with a green card. She has been working and paying taxes for about a year and has been living in California with my son about 2 years. They are married. My son, who is 40, was born in the U.S. and has been working and paying taxes for over 20 years. My daughter in law was just diagnosed with complete kidney failure and is getting dialysis and will need a transplant.She is on my son’s insurance from work, but I am wondering if she can get medicare to help with the huge costs.

  37. Kiran says:

    Hello.My grandparents(80’s), are green card holders. they never worked in U.S,and they have been living here from last year. Can they apply for any pension or benefits??

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  39. angelita says:

    can a 65 yrs old woman avail health benefits who has never work and only 2 yrs. green card holder?

  40. Carmen A says:

    My grandmother is 71 years old and has been a US resident since 2000, she travels back home for 4 weeks every other year to see her mother. She has never worked in the US but is a legal resident since 2000, can she qualify for Medicare or Medicaid?

  41. V.P. Vyas says:

    Hellow.I am a US citizen holding benefits under senior citizenship basically from India. I want to ask is my wife eligible to claim for same benefits even she returned back to India during very 1st year of immigration & got cancelled her green card ? If yes how can i be able to go for it..?

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  43. dave says:

    I’m looking for medicare for my parents.I couldn’t affort private insurance.Its just been 8 months, they’ve been living with me.They got green cards and looking for jobs.They are on your 50’s its really hard to find a jobs.I’m only making below 25k, its only enough for me for food and rent for appartments.Can anyone help me ??

    • kelly lewis says:

      You will need to go to your states
      affordable care act website. Your parents
      are too young for Medicare(which is for
      65+ or people on dialysis) . As their sponsor
      you agreed to cover their bills and could have
      bought them short term insurance…
      call your local community center or put in your state name and affordable care act…
      if youc annot find it, call your state insurance commissioner. Your parents will have
      to apply for insurance through the marketplace,
      as they are legal residents they will qualify and as their sponsor your income will be

  44. Kalpana says:

    I’m dv viss holder can I get health insurense and ebt if I’m not eligible for my primery expenses, not working and im a mother .

  45. Marcia says:

    I’ve had a Conditional (two-year)Green Card for 1 1/2 yrs and am 65. If I become a non-resident as my new husband (US citizen)is and live mostly in another country, do I loose my Medicare?