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My Medicare premiums went up because of my income from two years ago. My income has since gone down. Is there anything I can do?

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). 

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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, contact your local Social Security office to schedule an appointment or fill out form SSA-44 and submit it to the office by mail or in person. Local offices have fully reopened after being closed to walk-in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Social Security recommends calling in advance and scheduling an appointment to avoid long waits.

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. 

Keep in mind

  • Standard Medicare premiums can, and typically do, go up from year to year. However, the standard Part B rate fell 3 percent in 2023, from the current $170.10 a month to $164.90. 
  • In 2023, the standard premium starts increasing once incomes are above $97,000 for an individual taxpayer and $194,000 for a couple filing taxes jointly.

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