How to Use Medicare IRMAA Life-Changing Event Form SSA-44 To Save Money

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If a senior’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) from two years ago is above a certain threshold, then they are forced to pay a higher premium for Medicare Part B and D. These plus-sized premiums are called an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount or IRMAA. While your MAGI from two years ago is already set in stone, you may still be able to reduce your Medicare premium.

The Social Security Administration is empowered to use more recent information than the two-year lookback when it’s available and has defined seven life-changing events that can change how an IRMAA is calculated. The four most common of those events are getting married, getting divorced, the death of a spouse, and reducing or stopping work hours.

If one of these events affects a Medicare enrollee, he or she can proactively notify the SSA by using a “Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount – Life-Changing Event form. This optional form is filled out once per person. Joint filers should each submit one.

Each individual reports the type and date of the life-changing event in Step 1 of the form, the MAGI from the year with the event in Step 2, the following year’s lower MAGI in Step 3, and evidence of the event.

Elsewhere, in their operations manual for employees, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides examples of evidence for the various Life Events.

For Work Stoppage, they say they accept:

  • A statement from an employer,
  • A retirement letter,
  • Corporate minutes,
  • Record of business transfer or sale, or
  • Beneficiary’s attestation under penalty of perjury regarding the work stoppage or employment separation.

For Work Reduction, they say they accept:

  • A statement from an employer,
  • Past and current pay stubs showing a change in hours,
  • Corporate minutes,
  • Record of business transfer (Self-Employment), or
  • Beneficiary’s attestation under penalty of perjury, regarding reduction in work hours.

The SSA also notes in these Work Stoppage and Work Reduction guides that instead of estimating your MAGI, if you simply have a more recent tax return, meaning one from the current year or the year before, you can bring that with you to show a significant reduction in MAGI.

An Example

Consider how this situation would work. Imagine that you retire in July of 2022. Your 2022 IRMAA was already decided back in November of 2021 based on your 2020 actual MAGI, but you file an IRMAA Life Event Form. On the form, you tell the Social Security Administration that you are no longer earning income so your 2022 MAGI is estimated to be lower than your 2020 actual MAGI. You also project that your 2023 MAGI will be even lower still, as you don’t plan to work at all in the new year.

The form is accepted, and the Social Security Administration not only lowers your current 2022 IRMAA, but they also use your 2023 Projected MAGI for the next several years rather than looking at prior year tax returns. You can see why in the table below:

Current Year Default Tax Return Most Recent Information
2021 2019 Actual MAGI 2019 Actual MAGI
2022 2020 Actual MAGI 2020 Actual MAGI
2022 Retirement!
You file a Work Stoppage Life Event Form Event with a Step 2 Projected 2022 MAGI and the optional Step 3 Projected 2023 MAGI
2022 Recalculated 2020 Actual MAGI Projected 2023 MAGI
2023 2021 Actual MAGI Projected 2023 MAGI
2024 2022 Actual MAGI Projected 2023 MAGI
2025 2023 Actual MAGI 2023 Actual MAGI
2026 2024 Actual MAGI 2024 Actual MAGI


You can see that in this case, your 2020, 2021, and 2022 MAGI numbers end up not being used to calculate IRMAAs. In this way, if you have a scheduled life event in the future, you can use smart tax planning to move high AGI events into tax years when a life-event makes the MAGI obsolete.

Now, applicants must be faithful and accurate in MAGI estimates. If your estimates on a life-changing event form prove inaccurate, then the SSA can retroactively reissue an IRMAA. In the above example, if our 2023 projected MAGI was proved inaccurate by the actual MAGI, we might need to repay IRMAAs from 2022, 2023, and 2024 in 2025.

The most common life-changing event for an IRMAA comes from seniors who were working at age 63 but retired before age 65. In this scenario, being proactive and submitting a life-changing event form to the SSA helps to ensure a smooth and affordable enrollment into Medicare.

You can find a copy of the latest form and instructions for how to file it here:

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash. Image has been cropped.

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Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 800 financial articles and is known for her expertise on tax planning.