If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are not working, it is likely that you are not receiving health insurance benefits from an employer, and you may not be able to afford health insurance on your own.
Being in a situation where you need significant — and expensive — medical care and are unable to afford it is both frustrating and distressing. Fortunately, if you apply and qualify for SSDI, you will qualify for Medicare benefits as well, although you might not be able to utilize these benefits right away.
SSDI and Medicare
If you are awarded SSDI you will also be awarded Medicare, even if you are under age of 65. For many, obtaining Medicare is just as important as obtaining SSDI.
However, you will not be able to use these Medicare benefits right away. You must wait two years following your SSDI eligibility to begin using your Medicare benefits.
In addition, your two-year waiting period will not start until five full months following your onset date. Your onset date is the date the Social Security Administration determined you were no longer able to work due to your disability. Essentially this means that you will be able to start using Medicare benefits two years and five months after your onset date.
But do not despair. Many recipients’ onset date is determined to be prior to the date they were awarded SSDI or even before they filed for SSDI, meaning you might not have to wait two full years and five months following your SSDI eligibility determination to begin using your Medicare benefits.
What to do during the waiting period
It is a relief to know that if you qualify for SSDI, you will qualify for Medicare benefits. But how will you pay for medical care during the two-year waiting period?
One option that might be available is to apply for Medicaid. Those who receive SSDI might qualify for Medicaid benefits during their two-year waiting period if they earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level.
For example, those who receive the $1,483 (the average amount of SSDI benefits awarded) and have no other source of income might qualify for Medicaid under federal law. However, some states — including Indiana — have lower income thresholds for Medicaid benefits for disabled applicants, so not all SSDI recipients will qualify.
Needing medical care and being unable to afford it is distressing. This is especially true if you cannot work due to a disability, and thus cannot earn an income to pay your medical bills. Fortunately, if you qualify for SSDI, you will also qualify for Medicare, enabling you to meet your medical expenses.