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What Is the Medicare IRMAA and How Is It Calculated?

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Income-related monthly adjustment amounts (IRMAAs) are Medicare surcharges levied on high-income beneficiaries.

Understanding the concept of income-related monthly adjustment amounts (IRMAAs) is crucial for anyone navigating the Medicare system. In simple terms, an IRMAA is an extra charge added to your monthly Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (prescription drug coverage) premiums if your income is above a certain threshold. It serves as a mechanism to ensure that those in higher income brackets contribute more toward the cost of their Medicare coverage. Here’s what you need to know.

If you need additional help with you finances in retirement, consider speaking with a financial advisor.

What Is IRMAA?

IRMAA is a monthly surcharge applied to your Medicare Part B and D premiums based on your income. Part B covers medically necessary and preventative services. Imagine your routine doctor visits, lab tests, surgeries, and even home healthcare – these are all taken care of by Part B. On the other hand, Part D caters to prescription drugs, ensuring you don’t have to bear the brunt of high medication costs.

The purpose of instituting the IRMAA system was to create a balance in the Medicare budget. Think of IRMAA as a sliding scale: Those with higher incomes pay more into the Medicare system due to their greater capacity, thus helping maintain Medicare’s solvency and ensuring everyone receives needed care.

The IRMAA surcharge is applied over the standard premium amounts for Part B and Part D, making it a key factor in the overall cost of Medicare for higher-income beneficiaries. This extra cost can potentially impact your budget, especially during retirement. Therefore, gaining a detailed understanding of IRMAA and how it is calculated can help you better anticipate potential financial implications.

How Your IRMAA Is Calculated?

The calculation of IRMAA depends on a variety of factors. The most significant of these is your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which can be calculated by adding your total adjusted gross income and tax-exempt interest income. Your tax filing status – whether you file as single, married filing jointly, head of household or married filing separately – also plays a role in determining your IRMAA. Life-changing events, such as marriage, divorce or the death of a spouse, that might affect your income are also taken into account when calculating your IRMAA.

In essence, IRMAA is calculated using the MAGI reported on your IRS tax return from two years ago. For instance, if you’re determining your IRMAA for 2024, you will consider your MAGI from 2022. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses this information to categorize beneficiaries into different income brackets. Each of these brackets has a different IRMAA surcharge. This tiered approach means that the higher your income bracket, the higher your IRMAA surcharge will be. In turn, IRMAA results in higher overall Medicare premiums.

For example, individuals with a MAGI of $103,000 or less in 2022 and married couples with a MAGI of $206,000 or less won’t pay IRMAAs in 2024. However, if a single individual earns more than $103,000 or a married couple earns more than $206,000, they will have to pay an additional IRMAA surcharge on top of their standard Part B and Part D premiums.

How Much Are IRMAAs and Who Pays Them?

A couple looks over their modified adjusted gross income and determines they won't owe any IRMAAs this year.

When budgeting for your Medicare expenses, it’s crucial to factor in the cost of IRMAAs each year. This extra charge is added to your monthly Part B and Part D premiums if your income exceeds a certain limit, and these costs are in addition to your regular Medicare premium amounts.

To provide a clearer picture, here are the IRMAA rates and income thresholds for 2024:

2024 Medicare Full Part B: IRMAAs and Total Premiums

MAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Individual Tax ReturnsMAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Joint Tax ReturnsIRMAATotal Monthly Premium
Up to $103,000Up to $206,000$0.00$174.70
More than $103,000 and less than or equal to $129,000More than $206,000 and less than or equal to $258,000$69.90$244.60
More than $129,000 and less than or equal to $161,000More than $258,000 and less than or equal to $322,000$174.70$349.40
More than $161,000 and less than or equal to $193,000More than $322,000 and less than or equal to $386,000$279.50$454.20
More than $193,000 and less than $500,000More than $386,000 and less than $750,000$384.30$559.00
More than or equal to $500,000More than or equal to $750,000$419.30$594.00

However, high-income Medicare beneficiaries are subject to different IRMAAs and premiums if they only have Part B immunosuppressive drug coverage:

2024 Medicare Part B Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Only: IRMAAs and Total Premiums

MAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Individual Tax ReturnsMAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Joint Tax ReturnsIRMAATotal Monthly Premium
Up to $103,000Up to $206,000$0.00$103.00
More than $103,000 and less than or equal to $129,000More than $206,000 and less than or equal to $258,000$68.70$171.70
More than $129,000 and less than or equal to $161,000More than $258,000 and less than or equal to $322,000$171.70$274.70
More than $161,000 and less than or equal to $193,000More than $322,000 and less than or equal to $386,000$274.70$377.70
More than $193,000 and less than $500,000More than $386,000 and less than $750,000$377.70$480.70
More than or equal to $500,000More than or equal to $750,000$412.10$515.10

While Part D premiums vary from plan to plan, about 8% of beneficiaries pay an IRMAA in addition to their premiums, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. About a third of beneficiaries have their premiums and IRMAAs deducted from their Social Security checks while the remainder make their payments directly to their plan.

2024 Medicare Part D IRMAAs

MAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Individual Tax ReturnsMAGI for Beneficiaries Who File Joint Tax ReturnsIRMAA
Up to $103,000Up to $206,000$0.00
More than $103,000 and less than or equal to $129,000More than $206,000 and less than or equal to $258,000$12.90
More than $129,000 and less than or equal to $161,000More than $258,000 and less than or equal to $322,000$33.30
More than $161,000 and less than or equal to $193,000More than $322,000 and less than or equal to $386,000$53.80
More than $193,000 and less than $500,000More than $386,000 and less than $750,000$74.20
More than or equal to $500,000More than or equal to $750,000$81.00

Appealing Your IRMAA

If you disagree with your IRMAA determination or if your income has significantly decreased due to certain life-changing events, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves filling out a form called SSA-44, in which you can explain why you believe the IRMAA determination is incorrect and provide evidence to support your claims. This could include documentation of your life-changing event or proof of a reduction in income.

Once completed, the form should be submitted to your local Social Security office for review. You will then receive a new determination based on the information you provided.

If you’re not satisfied with the decision, there are further levels of appeal available to you, which include requesting a hearing by an administrative law judge, requesting a review by the Appeals Council or taking the matter to federal court.

Paying Your IRMAA

High-income Medicare beneficiaries will owe IRMAAs on their Part B and Part D coverage.

How do you plan to pay your IRMAA charges? There are several methods to choose from. If you receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, your Medicare Part B and IRMAA may be automatically deducted from your benefit payment. If you don’t receive these benefits, you will receive a bill and can pay through methods including mail, in person at your local Social Security office, or online through your bank’s bill pay service or Medicare’s online Biller Direct Express service.

Choosing the best payment method depends on your circumstances. For example, if you receive regular benefits, having the costs automatically deducted can simplify things. However, if your income fluctuates or if you prefer to manage your payments more actively, a direct billing method may be more suitable.

Keep in mind that if you’re late enrolling in Part B, you could face a 10% fee for each full 12-month period that your premium is late, emphasizing the importance of timely payment. If you’re late signing up for Part D, you’ll pay a penalty that’s equal to 1% of the “national base beneficiary premium” multiplied by “the number of full, uncovered months you didn’t have Part D or creditable coverage,” according to medicare.gov.

So, consider your options carefully, keeping your financial habits and lifestyle in mind.

Bottom Line

The income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) represents an essential component of Medicare, acting as a mechanism to ensure fairness and financial stability within this healthcare system. It adjusts the Medicare Part B and Part D premiums based on a beneficiary’s income, requiring those with higher incomes to contribute more. The implications of IRMAA can significantly impact individuals’ budget planning, particularly during retirement. Hence, understanding how IRMAA is calculated, its associated costs, and the appeal process is vital.

Healthcare Planning Tips

  • Medical bills and healthcare expenses can quickly drain your savings in retirement, but a financial advisor can help you plan for these costs. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you’d prefer to go it alone, be sure to familiarize yourself with the various ways to guard against medical costs that could derail your financial plans in retirement.

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