Content starts here
Periodic Contributor

Medicare Entitlement for Foreign Spouse

I receive Medicare on my own work record- after 40 years of employment. My deceased husband

received his on his own record. I'm now engaged to a UK citizen, age 72, we are applying for the

K-1 visa to get married  in USA when approved ( hopefully Sept 2019) He would immediately apply for Legal Permanent Resident Status(Green Card)

I understand that the standard residency requirement for immigrant to apply for Medicare benefits is 5 years, but our situation is the same as that I found in the AARP article below which indicates he could receive benefits on MY record after 1 year of marriage if I met the 10 year contribution requirements so my 40 years meets this threshold.


I look forward to current responses on this and if it's the same, advise where I might find this in 

the Medicare regulations.   Although Medicare for Dummies isn't a typical source to get answers,

there is a section in the book that confirms the same as this previous AARP q & a.


so if someone on this forum can supply some knowledge on this query, I l do look forward to receiving it. Thank you in advance



AARP Q & A by Patricia Barry

Q. I recently married a Canadian who has applied to become a permanent U.S. resident. Will he be able to get Medicare on my work record and pay the same rate as I pay, or will he have to buy into Medicare?

A. If your work record makes you eligible for full Medicare benefits, then your husband—whatever his nationality—will also be entitled to the same benefits at the same cost, provided he meets all the following conditions:

he is a legal permanent resident of the United States;

he has been married to you for at least one year;

he is age 65 or older.

But for people in other circumstances, the answer could be different.

If you do not qualify for Medicare on your own work record

To be eligible for Medicare at age 65 or older, you need at least 40 Social Security work credits. This generally means about 10 years of work. If you don’t have sufficient credits, your foreign spouse could obtain Medicare only if he or she becomes an American citizen or has lived as a legal resident in the United States for at least five years. Once those conditions are met, your spouse could then buy into Medicare by paying a premium for Part A hospital insurance—which people with enough work credits get for free—and paying the usual premium for Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services. In 2011, people buying into Medicare pay up to $450 a month for Part A coverage.

If you qualify for Medicare on the work record of a former spouse

Married people with insufficient work credits can become eligible for Medicare on their spouse’s work record, including that of a divorced or deceased spouse. But if you remarry, that may change according to certain circumstances:

If you are a widow or widower who remarries after age 60 (or age 50 if you have disabilities), you remain entitled to Medicare benefits on your deceased spouse’s work record. But a new spouse, whether American or foreign, cannot claim benefits on your former spouse’s record.

If you are divorced and remarry, your marriage ends your entitlement to Medicare benefits on your former spouse’s work record. You can still receive benefits on the new spouse’s work record if he or she has enough work credits—but this would not apply in the case of a foreign spouse who has not worked in the United States.

If you are under age 65 but your foreign spouse is 65 or older

If you already have sufficient work credits to qualify for Medicare at 65, your spouse (whether American or foreign) can become eligible for Medicare on your work record when you reach age 62.


Periodic Contributor

Good morning Somarco,  Well you made me giggle this morning with the description of contract

 workers, but it's frustrating to get different answers.  When I was in mortgage lending, I

 could access the govt. lending regulations for myself, but with Medicare or SS, their

regulations don't appear to be available to the public-  only publications.


Hi Gail, Thank you too for your kind response.  Yes, it makes a big difference for marriage.

As everyone knows, medical insurance if available is unaffordable for many, especially when

someone 72 needs it. If we have to wait 5 years, getting interim insurance will 

take most of his  income every month for a Visitors' type policy.  Contrary, if I move to

UK, I'd be on the NHS after 6 months of residency, no conditions.   I don't want to leave my

family of course, so when I saw articles that say it's 1 year, not 5, I am on the hunt to find out.

He & I have been a couple for 5 years flying back & forth and want to settle down.


Kind regards




0 Kudos

@JSHO SSA determines Medicare eligiblity. If you want to know the answer to your question, go to the source.

Bark less. Wag more.
Periodic Contributor

Thank you for your reply.  I've talked to several people at Medicare who give conflicting information.

When I see this article published by AARP that reads like a statement of fact, that's why I ask it here - hoping perhaps there are members who have had the same situation.


0 Kudos
Honored Social Butterfly



I agree with somarco 


While I believe the AARP article and the Duumy book and even other sites are right in their interpretation, that does not mean to say that Medicare or CMS will have it plainly stated all in one place.  


It flows from other laws mainly Social Security but perhaps also from parts of the Immigration law too, then flows to Medicare eligibility as to the who, how and when.


Is it gonna make a difference to your marriage ?

 Where the two of you decide to reside?  


Just like you you seem to be doing for his legal status here, you will have to follow that further to the Social Security law as to how that status and stated time period of recognition works with that program and then follow that on into the program of Medicare.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

"I downloaded AARP Perks to assist in staying connected and never missing out on a discount!" -LeeshaD341679

AARP Perks

More From AARP