ALS, ESRD are exceptions to Medicare eligibility requirement

Those affected with these diseases don't have to be 65 to qualify

People typically can’t be eligible for Medicare unless they are 65 years old or older, but there are exceptions.

If you have either End Stage Renal Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, you can be eligible within a few short months. 

For those under 65 with disabilities other than ESRD or ALS, they must receive Social Security disability benefits for two years before being eligible for Medicare. 

As for ESRD and ALS, here are some quick facts, according to an article on

What is it?

Essentially, it is kidney failure. When kidneys lose the capabilities of filtering wastes and excess fluids from your blood, then dangerous levels of fluids build up in the body. While a kidney transplant is the ultimate cure, it can take months or years to find a matching donor. In the meantime, dialysis, the process of removing excess water or toxins from the blood, can be done to keep kidneys functioning. 

When do people with ESRD become eligible for Medicare? 
If someone begins a self-dialysis training program, or at-home dialysis, they can become eligible immediately. If patients are receiving a kidney transplant, they can become eligible as soon as they are hospitalized for the transplant. But if someone prefers just going for treatment at a dialysis center, they will become eligible for Medicare after three months of treatment.

How long have those with ESRD been covered under Medicare?
Congress passed legislation in 1972, and the ESRD Medicare program took effect on July 1, 1973. An estimated 650,000 patients a year are affected by ESRD, according to an article on 

What is it?

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The mean survival time for people with ALS is three to five years, according to the ALS Association. It is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famed baseball player for the New York Yankees was diagnosed with it in the 1930s.

When do people with ALS become eligible for Medicare? 
Patients with ALS can become eligible for Medicare approximately five months after gaining Social Security disability status.
There’s a five-month waiting period after applying for disability benefits before they are given.

How long have those with ALS been covered under Medicare?
Congress added ALS as a qualifying condition to Medicare coverage in 2001. An estimated 30,000 Americans are affected by ALS, according to the ALS Association. 

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.