Toni King

Toni King

Dear Toni: I have been reading your articles regarding turning 65, being laid off, and enrolling in Medicare, but I have not read an article on how to lower my Medicare monthly premium. I need help!

I turned 65 in September and enrolled in Medicare. I received a letter from Social Security stating that I must pay $544.30 for Part B and $71.30 for Part D, totaling $615.60 monthly. The IRS states that my income was $345,000 in 2020.

This income is because my husband was working in 2020, except Fred passed away in February and the income has changed. Now I only have $2,400 a month to pay bills, no longer including my husband’s income.

I have heard from friends that you are aware of a unique way I can bring my Medicare premium to a lower, affordable amount. How do I inform Social Security that my income has changed? Thanks.

--Gwen from Tampa, Fla.

Hi Gwen:: Do you want to wait 2 years for the IRS to inform Medicare that your income has decreased due a “Life Changing Event” such as death of a spouse, recently married, divorced, retired, been laid off, working part-time, etc.? Or do you want to let Medicare know NOW that you have had a “Life Changing Event,” and you and/or your spouse are no longer earning that amount of income?

Many Americans still believe that everyone pays the same amount for their Medicare Parts B and D premiums. Those days are long gone!

If your income as an individual is over $91,000 for 2022 and $97,000 in 2023, or if your married/joint income is over $182,000 for 2022 or $194,000 in 2023, then your Medicare Parts B and D premiums will be higher. Social Security explains in the letter to you how they arrived at the Part B and D premiums based on your “Modified Adjusted Gross Income” (MAGI) from your last filed tax return.

Your MAGI was over $340,000 and the table used in the letter you received from Social Security shows what the Part B and Part D “premium adjustment” will be, whether you are filing single or married.

There are special situations, also known as “Life Changing Events,” that can lower your “income related monthly adjusted amount” (IRMAA).

Some of the life changing events that apply are:

• You have gotten married or divorced, or your spouse has died.

• You or your spouse have stopped working or have reduced your hours.

• You have lost property that you were making money from due to a disaster or other event beyond your control.

• Your spouse’s or your benefits from an insured pension plan decreased or stopped.

Use Form SSA-44 titled “Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amount — Life-Changing Event” to advise Social Security of your change in income. Visit SSA.gov to download the form (or see chapter 8 of Toni’s Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition, where you can view SSA-44 and other Medicare forms.)

Once Social Security is satisfied with the evidence, it will update its records and correct Part B and Part D premiums to what your current income is.

Gwen, Social Security reviews your filed tax returns each year and will adjust your Part B and D premiums to correspond with your new income level the following year. You will want to keep filing Form SSA-44 until your last filed return reflects your current income.

If you’re still confused about Medicare (and who isn’t?), you can visit ToniSays.com for information about upcoming Zoom webinars, including one on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. CST.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She spent more than 27 years as a top sales leader in the field. For a Medicare checkup, email: info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.

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