Toni Says

Dear Toni,

I am over 73 and began taking my RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) from my 401(k) when I turned 72. Could this have increased my Medicare Part B premium for 2023?

This year my monthly premiums increased to $329.70 for Part B and an extra IRMAA premium of $31.50 for Part D.

I am married and my wife began a new job in 2021 with a higher salary. Since we are filing jointly, could this have increased my Medicare premiums? She has recently been laid off and our joint income has changed drastically. What can I do?

--James from Pearland, Texas

James:

Some Americans believe that everyone pays the same amount for their Medicare Parts B and D premiums. Those days are long gone! So yes, definitely, taking your RMD at 72 and your wife’s new job could have raised your Medicare Part B and D premiums, James.

If your income as an individual is over $97,000 or over $194,000 if married, your Medicare Parts B and D premiums will be more. Social Security explains in the letter they mail 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. (The table included in the letter shows what the Part B and Part D premium adjustment will be, whether you are filing single or married.)

Any increase in your MAGI can increase your Medicare premiums. Medicare bases your premiums on both you and your spouse’s income whether one is Medicare age or under. Your RMDs combined with your wife’s increased income raised your Medicare premiums.

Do you want to wait 2 years for the IRS to inform Medicare that your income actually decreased due to a “Life Changing Event”? Or do you want to let Medicare know NOW that your MAGI has decreased?

The 2023 Part B premium of $ 329.70 and $31.50 for Part D tells me that your joint income in 2021 was in the $246,001 to $306,000 range.

I have good news for you, James: Since your wife is no longer employed and earning the salary she did in 2021, you can file an appeal with Social Security to have your Medicare Parts B and D reduced.

There is a special form, SSA-44, available at SSA.gov. Submitting this “Life Changing Event” form can lower your “IRMAA” (income related monthly adjusted amount). Examples of qualifying life changing events are:

-- You have gotten married or divorced

-- Your spouse has died

-- You have stopped working or had your hours reduced

-- Your spouse has stopped working or had work hours reduced

-- You or your spouse lost pension income

-- You or your spouse lost income-producing property

Fill out form SSA-44 and attach the original documents or certified copies to verify your change in income. (Chapter 8 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition includes Social Security forms to enroll in Medicare properly, such as CMS-L564, CMS-40B and SSA-44.)

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.

If you would like help learning how to personalize your Medicare, you can sign up for my “Confused about Medicare and Social Security” Zoom webinar on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. Central time. Find the registration link at www.Tonisays.com.

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. You can now visit www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts and get other information for boomers/seniors.

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