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Advice | Toni Says

Toni: We get your column in our local papers. From you, I learned about Social Security’s “Life Changing Event” form (SSA-44) and the ability to appeal the extra IRMMA premium we are charged.

I had an unusual stock sale in 2017 that put us in the highest bracket. That is not likely to happen again. As soon as I filed my 2018 taxes, I used it as evidence to support my Medicare Part B/D premium appeal.

Much to my surprise, we just received confirmation from Social Security that our appeal was granted, and our monthly Medicare premiums for both me and my wife will decrease by over $360 a month for each of us.

I am sure you have helped other confused Americans as well. Know that you are appreciated and keep up the good work. — Jim from Houston

Thank you, Jim: You are correct. You can file form SSA-44 titled “Medicare Part B Income-Related Premium - Life-Changing Event” to appeal your Part B/D premium increase if you think your income is lower or not correct. Take this form to your local Social Security office to appeal the IRMAA Medicare Part B and D premiums. Social Security uses your tax information from two years prior to establish your Part B and D IRMAA premiums. If your income was more than $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a couple, then your Part B/D premiums will be higher than $135.50 for 2019.

Once Social Security is satisfied with the evidence, it will update its records as it did for Jim and his wife. Social Security will lower Part B and D premiums to what your current income is if the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is lower.

File the Life-Changing Event form yearly until your income lowers to the basic amount. Email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664 for the Life-Changing Event form or visit ssa.gov for the SSA-44 form. Don’t forget a onetime increase in your income such as property that is sold, cashing in your IRA, an unusual stock sale such as yours, Jim, can change your monthly adjusted gross income (MAGI) that may cause you to pay a higher Part B or Part D premium.

A life changing event that can change your income can be:

• 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 due to a disaster or other events beyond your control and from which you were making money; or

• you or your spouse’s benefits from an insured pension plan stopped or went down

Life Changing Event documents to show why your income changed are listed below. (You must give the original or a certified copy documents with form SSA-44)

• If you filed a tax return for the year in which the income-changing event took place, provide a signed copy of your tax return. If you have not yet filed a tax return, you can submit an estimate of the change in your income.

• If your marital status has changed, provide a marriage or death certificate.

• If your employment status has changed, provide a letter from your employer about your retirement.

• If you have lost income from a property, provide an insurance claim for property damage.

Social Security reviews your income each year and will adjust your Part B and D premiums to your new income level the next year.

If you are still confused and would like to discuss your specific Medicare circumstances either email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664 and the Toni Says team can help you.