UNITED STATES—Dear Toni: I have been reading your articles regarding COVID-19, being laid off and enrolling in Medicare properly, but I have not read an article on how to lower the Medicare monthly premium if you are not making that amount of income due to a life event such as your spouse passing away.

I turn 65 in September and have enrolled in Medicare. I received a letter from Social Security stating that I must pay $475.20 for Part B and $70.70 for Part D, totaling over $545.90 monthly because the IRS states that my income was $345,000 in 2019.

Since my husband passed away this February, I only have my Social Security check of $2400 a month to pay bills, not my husband’s income anymore.

How do I inform Social Security that I am no longer making this amount of income and bring my Medicare premium to a lower, affordable amount? Thanks…Gwen from Destin, FL.

Gwen: Do you want to wait 2 years for the IRS to inform Medicare that your income has decreased due a “Life Changing Event” such as death of a spouse, being laid off/working part-time or recently divorced or do you want to let Medicare know now that you have had a “Life Changing Event,” because you or your spouse are no longer earning that amount of income?

During a Toni Says® Medicare consultation, we hear about the Medicare Part B and D premium problems from those on Medicare who have had various types of “Life Changing Events” mentioned above or have decided to retire. People believe that everyone pays the same amount for their Medicare Parts B and D premium. Those days are long gone!

If your income as an individual is over $88,000 or married is over $176,000; your Medicare Parts B and D premiums will be more. Social Security explains in the letter that is mailed to you, how they arrived at the Part B and D premiums based on your “Modified Adjusted Gross Income” (MAGI) from your last filed tax return.

Your MAGI was over $330,000 and the table used in the letter you received from Social Security shows what the Part B and Part D premium adjustment (nice way of saying it’s going to cost you more) will be, whether you are filing single or married.

Most retirees do not realize that they have special situations also known as “Life Changing Events” that can lower your “income related monthly adjusted amount” (IRMAA).

Below are a few of the life changing events that can make your income go down:

-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 that you were making money from due to a disaster or other event beyond your control; or

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

Use form SSA-44 titled “Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amount – Life-Changing Event” and attach the original documents or certified copies to verify your change in income. Call your local Social Security office to discuss the filing of this form.

Once Social Security is satisfied with the evidence, it will update its records and correct Part B and Part D premiums to what your current income is.

**Social Security reviews your income each year and will adjust your Part B and D premiums to your new income level the next year and again you will want to keep filing SSA-44 form until that year’s income is to the lower amount.

For information about specific Medicare options, email info@tonisays.com or call 1-888-TONI-SAY (888-866-4729) to have your Medicare questions answered.

Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition is giving a $5 discount to the Toni Says® readers on the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com.