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  • Writer's pictureJanelle Doll

Are you eligible for Medicare if you retire early?

If you are a police officer and you are considering retiring before age 65, you are not alone! Did you know that pre-COVID congress was introduced to a bill in September of 2019 addressing a Medicare “buy-in” option for first responders 50 to 64 years of age who are separated from service due to retirement or disability? This bill is titled S.2552-Expanding Health Care Options for Early Retirements Act.


If passed, this bill would provide coverage identical to the Medicare coverage offered to Americans age 65 and older, including the deductible, coinsurance, and copayment amounts. This bill was introduced to the Senate and was referred to the Finance Committee for review but since has been dead in the water. You can review the status of this bill at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senatebill/2552/text .


HICAP encourages you to advocate for the passing of this bill and to write to your congressional representative or state senator to show your support.


At this time, the rules for Medicare eligibility are the same for first responders as for everyone else. You can apply when you are 65 years old or if you have a qualifying condition or disability. Keep in mind that your employer benefits will likely end when you retire and at this time you must qualify with one of the below reasons to qualify for Medicare before the age of 65:

  • Have end-stage renal disease

  • Have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

  • Have a disability and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months.

If you are considering an early retirement, your local Fresno-Madera Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) strongly encourages you to research Medicare so that you are prepared to make well-informed coverage decisions, meet with your Benefits Coordinator, and contact HICAP to review your Medicare eligibility. HICAP is monitored by the Fresno-Madera Area Agency on Aging, the California Department of Aging, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Call today to schedule your free, unbiased, and confidential appointment at (559) 224-9117. HICAP is open MondayFriday 8am-5pm. We are here to help!

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