TONI SAYS: Social Security’s unique way of lowering Medicare Part B/D premiums

By Toni King

Dear Toni:

I turned 65 in November and enrolled in Medicare. I received a letter from Social Security stating that I must pay $527.50 for Part B and $70 for Part D totaling $597.50 monthly. The IRS states that my income was $375,000 in 2022.

The high-income level is because my husband was working in 2022. Charlie passed away in February and my income now is only my Social Security check of $2400 a month to pay bills.

How do I inform Social Security that my income has changed because I am no longer receiving my husband’s income? I have heard from friends that you are aware of a unique way I can bring my Medicare premiums to a lower, affordable amount? Gwen from Austin, TX

Hi Gwen:

Of course you do not want to wait the usual 2 years for the IRS to inform Medicare that your income has decreased due a “Life Changing Event” (such as death of a spouse, recently married/divorced, retired, been laid off/working part-time). You want to let Medicare know NOW that you have had a “Life Changing Event,” because you or your spouse are no longer earning that amount of income.

Many Americans still believe that everyone pays the same amount for their Medicare Parts B and D premium. Those days are long gone!

If your income as an individual was over $97,000 for 2023 and is over $103,000 in 2024 or if your married/joint income was over $194,000 for 2023 or is over $206,000 for 2024, then your Medicare Parts B and D premiums will be more. Social Security explains in the letter that is mailed 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.

Gwen, your MAGI was over $375,000 and the table used in the letter you received from Social Security shows what the Part B and Part D “premium adjustment” will be, whether you are filing single or married.

But special situations, also known as “Life Changing Events,” can lower your “income related monthly adjusted amount” (IRMAA).

Below are a few “Life Changing Events” that can make your MAGI go down:

  • You have gotten married or divorced, or your spouse has died.
  • You or your spouse have stopped working or have reduced your hours.
  • You have lost property that you were making money from due to a disaster or other event beyond your control; or
  • Your or your spouse’s benefits from an insured pension plan stopped or went down.

Use form SSA-44, “Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amount – Life-Changing Event” to advise Social Security of your change in income. Visit to download the SSA-44 form or see chapter 8 of Toni’s Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition for Medicare forms including SSA-44 and others.

Once Social Security is satisfied with the evidence, it will update its records and correct Part B and Part D premiums to reflect your current income is.

Gwen, since you are now single and no longer receiving Charlie’s income you will have significant changes to your income amount. The IRS and Social Security office reviews your filed tax returns each year and will adjust your Part B and D premiums to correspond with your new income level the following year. You will want to keep filing Form SSA-44 until your last filed return reflects your current income.

Need help understanding Medicare, Toni’s new Confused about Medicare video series is available at Medicare Moments podcasts are at Email [email protected] or call 832/519-8664 for answers to your Medicare questions.