If you are approved for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”), then you will be eligible for Medicare two years after that date you became entitled to benefits. Generally speaking that means the date that you became disabled plus 6 months. If you are approved for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), you are eligible for Medicaid benefits immediately once you are approved for SSI, at least in the Carolinas. In North Carolina, you can apply for Medicaid for the disabled while you are waiting to get your SSI. The same is not true in South Carolina. In North Carolina, you need to have an active application for SSI in order to apply for Medicaid for the Disabled (“MAD”). Many offices of the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) will tell you that you have to wait for your SSI to be approved, but that is not true. The determination for disability for MAD is governed by the same rules that govern Social Security disability benefits. However, the process is separate. If you have applied for MAD through your local Department of Social Services, you will likely be denied. You will need to appeal that decision and then have a hearing before a hearing officer, which usually takes place at your local DSS. If you have a hearing scheduled for you MAD, you should ask your disability attorney to attend that hearing with you. Be aware that eligibility for MAD is also determined by income and asset limitations.
Some people receive both DIB and SSI. In most cases in the Carolinas, people who receive even a small amount of SSI are also eligible for Medicaid.
Unfortunately, if you have not yet reached retirement age and you are not yet approved for DIB, you will not yet be able to have Medicare.