Yes. You can apply to Social Security to reduce your Medicare premium in light of changed financial circumstances.
Social Security uses tax information from the year before last — typically the most recent data it has from the IRS — to determine if you are a “higher-income beneficiary.” If so, you will be charged more than the “standard,” or base, premium for Medicare Part B (health insurance) and, if you have it, Part D (prescription drug coverage).
But a lot can happen in the intervening year, so Social Security provides a way to review your premium on the basis of a “life-changing event” that significantly affected your income, such as:
- A marriage, a divorce or the death of a spouse.
- Stopping or reducing work.
- Loss of an income-producing property for reasons beyond your control.
- A major change in or termination of your employer’s pension plan.
- A financial settlement with an employer (due to a company reorganization or bankruptcy, for example) that inflated your income one year but does not reflect your current financial situation.
To request a reduction of your Medicare premium, call 800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment at your local Social Security office or fill out form SSA-44 and submit it to the office by mail or in person. You’ll need to provide a copy of the more recent tax return and evidence of the life-changing event (the SSA-44 includes a checklist of acceptable documentation).
[Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.]
Keep in mind
- Standard Medicare premiums can, and typically do, go up from year to year.
- Increases from the standard premium, which is $148.50 a month in 2021, start with incomes above $88,000 for an individual and $176,000 for a couple who file taxes jointly.
Updated May 13, 2021
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