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SSD and Medicare Benefits in Missouri

An advice column for Social Security Disability applicants rendered the statement "You are eligible for medicare after you have been on SSD for two years.

I think I've responded to this one several times but it's probably worth repeating: in most cases, you don't actually have to be on SSD for two years before you can receive medicare benefits. But let me be more specific than that to avoid any confusion---after you have been approved for disability benefits, you don't necessarily have to wait two full years before you can receive medicare.

This can be confusing, I know, and this is probably why I run into so many occurrences of individuals stating that you can't receive medicare until you've been on SSD for two years. But this is how it works:

When an individual is approved in Missouri to receive Social Security Disability benefits, an established onset date, or EOD, is set. The established onset date simply means "when a person's disability started".

How far back the onset date can be set is certainly an important matter. It will affect how much a claimant may receive in back pay benefits, but it is also important in terms of medicare. So for this reason, it is vital that a claimant can not only present sufficient medical record documentation to establish an ongoing state of disability, but also establish the earliest possible date of onset.

At the initial claim level, onset is determined by the disability examiner who has been assigned to the case. Once the onset date has been determined, a claimant's eligibility to receive disability benefits will begin five months from this date. This five month time frame is known as the five month waiting period. If you haven't already figured it out, it is a very convenient way for the government to basically rob you of five months of your disability benefits, and for no good reason.

Now back to medicare eligibility. After the established date of onset (when your disability began, according to the medical records) has been determined, and the five month waiting period has been added to this (this becomes your effective date of entitlement, the point at which you are now eligible to receive disability benefits), your medicare eligibility begins two years from this time.

At first glance, it might seem as though a claimant who has just been approved will have to really wait two full years before they can receive medicare. However, this is typically not the case and here's why. Most Social Security Disability cases drag on for two to three years, meaning that by the time most claimants are approved following a disability hearing, they will most likely have "served" some or all of the two year medicare waiting period.

So, if you get awarded disability benefits, will you have to wait two years for medicare? In a small percentage of cases, that might be true. But many approved applicants will not have to wait more than a few months, and many will not have to wait at all.


1. How long does it take to get a disability hearing scheduled?
2. How long does it take to get a disability hearing?
3. How long does it take to get a decision after a disability hearing?
4. How to get a disability hearing scheduled faster?
5. Getting a faster disability hearing scheduled
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9. What to expect at a disability hearing
10. What happens when you go to a disability hearing?
11. After a disability hearing, what happens?

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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.