Medicare beneficiaries who pay extra for coverage due to higher income should be aware that those monthly surcharges are creeping up for 2021.
With the standard premium for Part B (which covers outpatient care) now set at $148.50 next year, those so-called income-related monthly adjustment amounts, or IRMAAs, will result in about 8%, or 5 million, of Medicare's 62.8 million beneficiaries paying anywhere from $207.90 to $504.90 for that coverage. (See chart below.)
In 2021, the adjustments will kick in for individuals with modified adjusted gross income above $88,000; for married couples who file a joint tax return, that amount is $176,000.
For Part D prescription drug coverage, the additional amounts range from $12.30 to $77.10 with the same income thresholds applied. That's on top of any premium you pay, whether through a standalone plan (whose premiums vary) or via an Advantage Plan, which typically includes drug coverage.
Higher-income beneficiaries have paid more for Part B since 2007 and for Part D since 2011. Generally speaking, your tax return from two years earlier is used to determine whether you are subject to the surcharges, because it usually is the most recent filing available. So for 2021, it would be your 2019 return (which was due this year).
If your income has dropped and is not reflected in a tax return yet, you can ask the Social Security Administration to reconsider. Events that qualify as justification for reducing or eliminating the IRMAAs include marriage, death of a spouse, divorce, loss of pension or the fact that you stopped working or reduced your hours.
As long as you meet one of the qualifying reasons, most of the time it gets adjusted, said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans.
You'll also need to provide supporting documents to justify your appeal. Suitable proof may include a letter from your former employer (if you're no longer working) or something similar that shows evidence of reduced income.
If your effort doesn't work, you can appeal the decision to an administrative law judge, although the process could take time and you'd continue paying those surcharges in the meantime.