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What Income Is Used to Determine Medicare Premiums?


Understanding your income and how it impacts your Medicare premiums is crucial for effective retirement planning. Your income can directly influence the cost of your Medicare premiums. By learning how to manage and potentially lower your income for premium calculations, as well as familiarizing yourself with the income limits set for premiums, the method of income calculation used and the types of income that could potentially increase your premiums, you can ensure you make the most out of your Medicare benefits. You may want to work with a financial advisor to make sure that you’ve thought through everything related to your retirement plan.

Higher Income Can Increase Medicare Premiums

Medicare premiums are not a fixed cost for everyone as they can vary based on your income. For example, in 2023, individuals with an annual income of $97,000 or less paid a standard premium of $164.90 for Medicare Part B. However, for those earning above $97,000, premiums were higher, with the highest tier being $560.50 per month for individuals earning $500,000 or more.

As you can see, those earning more than the basic limits will see premiums increase incrementally. This is known as the income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA), a key concept in the calculation of your premium. Those with increased incomes should consider speaking with a retirement expert to better understand and manage these increments.

Income Limits for Medicare Premiums

The income limits for Medicare premiums are adjusted each year. The table below shows the income limits and potential Medicare Part B premiums for 2023:

Filing Individual Tax ReturnFiling Joint Tax ReturnTotal Monthly Premium
$97,000 or less$194,000 or less$164.90
$97,001 – $123,000$194,001 – $246,000$230.80
$123,001 – $153,000$246,001 – $306,000$329.70
$153,001 – $183,000$306,001 – $366,000$428.60
$183,001 – $500,000$366,001 – $750,000$527.50

And for a comparison, the table below shows the income limits and potential Medicare Part B premiums for 2024:

Filing Individual Tax ReturnFiling Joint Tax ReturnTotal Monthly Premium
$103,000 or less$206,000 or less$174.70
$103,001 – $129,000$206,001 – $258,000$244.60
$129,001 – $161,000$258,001 – $322,000$349.40
$161,001 – $193,000$322,001 – $386,000$454.20
$193,001 – $500,000$386,001 – $750,000$559.00

What Income Calculation Is Used for Medicare Premiums

Medicare premiums are calculated using your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

Medicare premiums are calculated using your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) from your tax return for two years prior to the current year. For example, if you’re paying premiums in 2024, these will be based on your 2022 MAGI. It is essential to keep track of all forms of income, as these collectively affect your Medicare premiums. It’s important to understand your MAGI calculation so you can properly plan out your expected Medicare premium payment.

How Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) Works

MAGI is essentially your total gross income, including tax-exempt interest and certain non-taxable Social Security benefits, with certain deductions added back in. In simpler terms, it’s your income with some bonus additions and subtractions. Understanding MAGI is vital, given that it’s used to determine your IRMAA. However, remember that while managing your income could potentially yield lower premiums, it does not guarantee it.

To calculate MAGI, you start with your total income, subtract certain deductions (like student loan interest) and then add back some income and deductions, including non-taxable Social Security benefits and tax-exempt interest.

How to Lower Your Income for Medicare Premium Calculations

Certain strategies can help lower your income for Medicare premium calculations, including increased contributions to retirement accounts or investing in a Health Savings Account (HSA) Each of these are strategies that depend on your individual finances, though. For example, not everyone will qualify for an HSA 

While lower income could mean lower premiums, it’s crucial to consider other financial implications these strategies could have on individual retirement planning. As always, consult with a financial advisor before implementing any such strategies.

Bottom Line

A senior couple reviewing how much Medicare Part B will cover.

Understanding how your income impacts your Medicare premiums is crucial for effective financial planning. Keep in mind, that what has been conveyed is a guideline. Every income strategy and financial planning approach varies greatly depending on the individual. The goal is not just to manage your income now, but to also plan for the future, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your Medicare benefits.

Tips for Retirement Planning

  • One of the most important financial things you’ll ever do is prepare for retirement. This starts with a retirement plan, which can be difficult to create if you’re not experienced. A financial advisor has the expertise to help you with the plan and help you get there. 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.
  • Are you saving enough for retirement? Consider using SmartAsset’s free retirement calculator to help you estimate if you are.

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