Avoiding improper high-income Medicare surcharges

Barbara – Mass.: I am paying higher Medicare premiums based on my high income two years ago. My income dropped enough last year so that I should now be paying the standard premiums for Parts B and D of Medicare. Will this automatically take place or do I have to contact Social Security or Medicare to discuss it?

Phil Moeller: This is a Social Security matter, as it oversees the Medicare program that deals with income-based Part B and Part D surcharges. This program is called IRMAA, which stands for income-related monthly adjustment amount. There is a two-year lag between when your income changes and when this change is reflected in your Medicare premiums. The adjustment should be automatic but I don’t trust “automatic”. A clarifying call to Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 might make sense to make sure you don’t get hammered unfairly.