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Ask Kim

Pay Less for Medicare Part B

You might be able to lower your premiums if your income has dropped because of a "life-changing event."

My wife and I pay a high-income surcharge for our Medicare Part B premiums based on our income from more than a year ago. But we’ve since retired, and our combined incomes are now less than $30,000. Can we get these premiums reduced?

Yes. The high-income surcharge for Medicare Part B is based on your last tax return on record. So if your adjusted gross income was more than $170,000 on a joint return in 2008 (or more than $85,000 if single), you and your spouse may both have to pay $154.70 (or more) per month for Medicare Part B in 2010. See What’s in Store for Medicare Part B Premiums for details.

But you can get your premiums reduced if your income has dropped since then because of a “life-changing event.” That includes marriage, divorce, job loss or reduced work hours (including retirement), loss of income from income-producing property or cuts in pension benefits. Because your joint income is now $30,000, you should each end up paying the standard $96.40 per month.

Fill out the Medicare Part B Income-Related Premium – Life Changing Event form. You’ll need to estimate your income for the year and provide evidence of the change, which could include a statement from your former employer verifying that you’ve retired.

Got a question? E-mail me at askkim@kiplinger.com.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.