Signing up for Medicare if you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

You can get Part A and Part B no matter how old you are if your kidneys no longer work and you need regular dialysis or have had a kidney transplant, and one of these applies to you:

  • You've worked the required amount of time* under Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), or as a government employee.
  • You’re getting or are eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.
  • You’re the spouse or dependent child of a person who has worked the required amount of time* to be eligible for Medicare, or who is getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.

*Contact Social Security for more information about the amount of time required to be eligible for Medicare. If you get benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), contact the Railroad Retirement Board.

If you're eligible for Medicare because of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can enroll in Part A and Part B by contacting Social Security.

Enrolling in Medicare is your choice. However, you'll need both Part A and Part B for Medicare to cover certain dialysis and kidney transplant services.  

When you first enroll in Medicare based on End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and you're on dialysis, your Medicare coverage usually starts the fourth month of dialysis treatments.

If you're covered by an employer group health plan, your Medicare coverage will still start the fourth month of dialysis treatments. Your employer group may pay the first 3 months of dialysis.

In some cases, your Medicare coverage can start earlier. For example, if you take a course in self-dialysis training or get a kidney transplant during the 3-month waiting period, your Medicare coverage may start earlier.  

If you have Medicare only because of kidney failure, your Medicare coverage will end during one of these periods:

  • 12 months after the month you stop dialysis treatments
  • 36 months after the month you had a successful kidney transplant

Your Medicare coverage won't end if either of these happen:

  • You have to start dialysis again or get a kidney transplant within 12 months after the month you stopped getting dialysis
  • You continue to get dialysis or get another kidney transplant within 36 months after a transplant
Note

For Medicare to pay for kidney dialysis and some transplant services, you need both Part A and Part B.  If you don't pay your Part A premium or if you choose to cancel it, your Part B will end.  

Yes. You can enroll in Part B without paying a late enrollment penalty if you apply for Medicare and are approved based on End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Contact Social Security to enroll.