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Medicare IRMAA Appeal (a.k.a. Request for Reconsideration)

In general, once you become eligible for Medicare (either by reaching age 65 or by being on Social Security disability for two years), your Medicare premiums for a given year are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI*) from two years prior. For example, a person’s 2022 premiums are based on their 2020 income level.

The law is written this way for a simple pragmatic reason: “two years ago” is generally the most recent data Medicare has at the time they must determine your premium for a given year. For example, a person’s 2022 Medicare premiums must be determined in 2021 — at which point Medicare doesn’t have the person’s 2021 information yet, so they use 2020.

However, the law also provides that, if your income declines significantly from one year to the next due to a “life changing event” you may request that your premiums be based on that more recent year’s level of income, rather than your income from two years ago. This request may be referred to as a “request for reconsideration”, “Medicare Part B premium appeal”, or “Medicare IRMAA appeal.” Life changing events include:

  • Marriage,
  • Divorce/annulment,
  • Death of a spouse,
  • You or your spouse stopped working or reduced the hours that you work,
  • You or your spouse experienced a loss of income-producing property that was not at your direction (i.e., you did not intentionally sell the property), or
  • You or your spouse experienced a cessation, termination, or reorganization of an employer’s pension plan.

Filing Form SSA-44 is how you make such a request for reconsideration.

Why Is This Important?

In short, this is most likely to be important for:

  • High earners who retire in a year they (or their spouse) turn 63 or older or
  • High earners who retire when their spouse is receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Consider this example: Amanda and Neil collectively earn about $250,000 per year. They both retire in June of 2022, at age 64, after having earned roughly $120,000 for the year. When they begin Medicare at age 65 in 2023, their premiums will initially be based on their 2021 level of income ($250,000), which puts them in the third Medicare IRMAA tier.

They can, however, file an IRMAA appeal and request that their premiums instead be based on their 2022 income level. The net result is that they save $180.30, per month, per person in Medicare Part B and D premiums by filing Form SSA-44.

*For Medicare IRMAA purposes, MAGI is calculated as your adjusted gross income, plus tax-exempt interest, plus any foreign earned income or income from US territories that was excluded from your gross income.

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