How Changes in Income Affect Medicare Premiums

Medicare beneficiaries can see their premiums go up if their income rises, although for some that increase will be only temporary.

Question: I usually have my Medicare premiums paid automatically from my Social Security benefits, but I now receive a separate monthly Medicare premium bill in addition to the amount that is debited from my Social Security benefits each month. Why am I receiving this extra bill?

Answer: It’s likely you are receiving the extra bill because you’re now subject to the Medicare high-income surcharge, officially called the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). If this is the case, your bill will say “IRMAA.” You have to pay this surcharge if your modified adjusted gross income, plus tax-exempt interest income, was higher than $85,000 if you’re single or $170,000 if married filing jointly on your last tax return on file (usually 2017 for 2019 premiums).

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.