This week, some Medicare beneficiaries will receive a letter from the Social Security Administration, letting them know that because of their income, they will pay more for Medicare next year.
Since 2007, Medicare beneficiaries whose income exceeds $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples have paid a Medicare surcharge in addition to their regular monthly premiums. This surcharge is known as an Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount, or IRMAA. The surcharge applies to both Medicare Part B and Part D, which cover outpatient services and doctors’ fees, and prescription drugs, respectively.
Normally, Medicare Part B premiums and the IRMAA surcharge are deducted from your monthly Social Security benefit. But seniors who haven’t yet claimed Social Security or aren’t eligible are billed directly by Medicare.
In 2019, most Medicare beneficiaries will pay the standard Part B premium of $135.50 per month, which is a slight increase over 2018’s premium of $134 per month. But higher-income retirees will pay additional surcharges ranging from $54.10 to $325 per month per person for Medicare Part B in 2019. The 2019 surcharges are based on 2017 federal income tax returns filed in 2018. Those retirees will also pay extra for their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, with surcharges ranging from $13 to $74.80 per person per month.
Costs for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans vary widely, but the average premium will be about $33 per month next year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
It is possible to appeal a Medicare premium surcharge if you’ve experienced a life-changing event that caused your income to decrease, or if you can prove that the Social Security Administration used incorrect or outdated information to calculate the IRMAA premium. The Social Security Administration considers any of the following to be a life-changing event: death of a spouse; marriage, divorce or annulment; retirement or reduced working hours for one or both spouses; loss of a pension, or loss of income-producing property due to a natural disaster.
Note that a one-time increase in income – for example, due to a large IRA distribution, the sale of a vacation home, or a Roth IRA conversion – doesn’t qualify as a life-changing event, and would boost your Medicare premium for at least one year.
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