Medicare and Divorce

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Health insurance coverage based on your spouse can sometimes last far beyond the length of the marriage itself. If you're divorced and approaching the age where you qualify for government-sponsored Medicare, your former marriage may help you obtain coverage.

Medicare

Medicare is a health insurance plan offered by the federal government for people who are age 65 and older, or for some younger people who have certain illnesses. Medicare Part A, hospital coverage, is free. Part B, medical insurance, is available for an extra monthly premium based on your income. Part C, the advantage plan, is for people who want even more options. These can include a preferred provider organization plan with more doctors in network or a fee-for-service plan. Medicare also has a prescription drug plan for a small additional cost.

Qualifications After Divorce

Typically, a person qualifies for Medicare at the age of 65 if he worked about the equivalent of 10 years and also qualifies for Social Security. If you didn't work enough to qualify and are divorced, you may still qualify based on your ex-spouse's work record. If your ex-spouse qualifies for Medicare, you're 65 or older and were married for at least 10 years, you can get coverage through your former spouse. If you've remarried since your divorce, however, you no longer qualify for Medicare based on your ex-spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Cost-Based Divorces

Medicare's coverage options for divorced spouses may indirectly encourage some spouses to break up. Medicare Plan A only covers the most basic services. It doesn't cover long-term rehabilitation, assisted living, at-home nursing or clinical trials. Medigap policies, which help fill in the gap that Medicare doesn't cover, often charge premiums based on a person's income. It's not unheard of for spouses to choose to divorce so that the sick spouse can have an income of zero and qualify for cheaper Medigap premiums, even if he's qualifying based on his divorced spouse's work history.

Divorce's Impact on Income

If you're receiving any type of Medicare besides the free Plan A version, you are likely being charged premiums based on your income. The basis may be calculated according to your income from two years prior. If you've divorced and your income decreased as a result, you may qualify for a lower premium. To get the government to look at evidence besides your last two years of income, you can request a new decision based on a life-changing event and provide proof of your life-changing event to qualify.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Can a Divorced Spouse Waive the Social Security Income of a Spouse?
 

References

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Legal Aid & Divorce

Divorce has the reputation for being messy, costly, time-consuming litigation, and sometimes that is unavoidable. You’re often fighting for the things that are most precious to you, like your children. Not everyone has the income to fund such a battle, however. Thanks to a variety of resources, low-cost and no-cost legal aid is available in most states, but you must usually qualify for it.

Connecticut Law on Medical Coverage After a Divorce

In Connecticut, medical coverage ends for a spouse who is covered under the other spouse’s plan once the divorce is final. State laws vary concerning medical insurance for an ex-spouse after divorce. However, Connecticut law does not require insurance companies to continue health insurance eligibility for ex-spouses after a divorce from a covered spouse.

How Does Divorce Affect Food Stamps?

Eligibility for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – often called food stamps – is primarily based on your income and family size, which can change after divorce, but the exact method of calculation varies by state. For example, some states count the value of your vehicle while others do not. However, divorce itself does not affect your eligibility.

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