Watch Out for this Medicare Part B Trap

If your income is high enough, your Medicare Part B premiums could potentially triple. The author explains what to watch for.

If you’re 65 or over and have elected to enroll in Medicare Part B, you need to watch out for Irma. Actually, it’s IRMAA, which is short for Income Related Income Adjustment Amounts.

IRMAA can increase the amount you pay for Medicare Part B based on your income. The higher your income, the more you will pay in Part B premiums.

Your Medicare Part B premium (normally $134 a month for new enrollees in 2017) could be as high as $428.60 per month if your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is above a certain level. MAGI can be higher than your AGI (adjusted gross income), or it could be the same – it won’t be lower.

To determine your MAGI, you would take your AGI (from your tax return) and add back certain deductions; some of these deductions are common and some are rare.

What follows in a list of the deductions that are added to AGI to come up with MAGI.

  • Student loan interest
  • ½ of self-employment tax
  • Qualified tuition expenses
  • Tuition and fees deduction
  • Passive loss or passive income
  • IRA contributions and taxable Social Security Payments
  • The exclusion for income from U. S. savings bonds
  • The section 137 exclusion for adoption expenses
  • Rental losses
  • Any overall loss from a publicly traded partnership

The chart below shows the 2017 through 2020 IRMAA brackets. Though the brackets are frozen through 2020, the premium amounts associated with each bracket are likely to increase.

Single filing status Joint filing status Premium
Less than $85,000 Less than $170,000 $134
Between $85,000 and $107,000 Between $170,000 and $214,000 $187.50
Between $107,000 and $160,000 Between $214,000 and $320,000 $267.90
Between $160,000 and $214,000 Between $320,000 and $428,000 $348.30
Over $214,000 Over $428,000 $428.60


I guess that the good news is that most readers of this article won’t be facing IRMAA adjustments.

Those who will face an adjustment need to take that fact into account when making the decision as to whether to enroll in Medicare Part B. What might seem to be a good deal at $134 a month won’t look so good at $267.90 a month.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.