How the Hold Harmless Provision Protects Your Benefits

November 30, 2020 • By

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Last Updated: November 30, 2021


Social Security works together with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to make sure you won’t have a reduction in your Social Security benefits as a result of Medicare Part B premium increases.

A special rule called the “hold harmless provision” protects your Social Security benefit payment from decreasing due to an increase in the Medicare Part B premium. The Part B base premium for 2022 is $170.10, which is $21.60 higher than the 2021 base premium.

Most people with Medicare will pay the new premium amount because the increase in their benefit amount will cover the increase. However, a small number of people will see little or no increase in their Part B premium — and their Social Security benefit checks will remain the same — because the amount of their cost-of-living adjustment isn’t large enough to cover the increase.

To qualify for the hold harmless provision, you must:

  • Receive Social Security benefits or be entitled to Social Security benefits for November and December of the current year.
  • Have your Medicare Part B premiums for December and January deducted from your monthly benefits.

There are exceptions:

The hold harmless provision does NOT apply to you if:

  • You enroll in Part B for the first time in 2022.
  • You pay an income-related monthly adjustment amount premium.
  • You are dually eligible for Medicaid and have your premium paid by a state Medicaid agency.

You can learn more by visiting Medicare.

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner



    Soy Ciudadana, tengo 80 años, regreso a U.S.A
    despues de 3 años, en Argentina, tengo Medicare A, y quiero el B, por favor.

  2. Sylvia

    Because I couldn’t find work due to ageism, I retired early at age 62, so I missed out on what I could’ve received had I been able to work until age 65. As soon as I turned 65 and signed up for Medicare Part B, my premium was high, and every time there’s been a cost of living increase, either because of an increase in the premium or for tax purpouses, my amount has inched up only by, say, $17 or $20, and even with those small amounts, my Part B premium was increased, so that I can barely get more than the amount that I started out receiving. It’s sad, considering that there’s so much clamoring for “Medicare for all,” when Medicare is far from cheap and almost strips away the benefit of SS and any increase that comes with it.

  3. Bonnie R.

    Why did my daughter receive a letter stating that she will be getting a refund this month of her medicare payment from Nov and that her checks will be full checks with no medicare premium deductions and that MD will be covering her cost of Medicare?? Is this true? She will nolonger have to pay for medicare? Something sounds fishy. But I hope it is true! Please let me know! Ty

  4. Sandy

    My husband signed up for Medicare Part B effective Nov 2020. He received Medicare Premium Bill for time frame Nov 1 2020 thru Feb 28, 2021 at a cost of $578.40 equal to 4 months and he paid it. and the check has cleared the bank and posted to his Medicare account.
    His Social Security starts Jan 2021 with the first check to be received Feb 2021. He has now received a letter stating that from his first check (in Feb 2021) that $445.50 equal to 3 months – will be deducted from his check for past due premiums. How are they past due? He already paid for 4 months prior to receiving any Soc Sec payment. His income is below the amount for a larger Part B premium so that isn’t it.
    I believe he is being overcharged for Medicare Part B as the payments will equal 7 months. If they do deduct another $445.50, how do we get a refund on the overpayment?

    • Vonda

      Hi Sandy, thank you for your question. If there is a Medicare premium overpayment because your husband paid for Medicare in advance and the premiums will also get deducted from his monthly benefits, Social Security will automatically refund the premium overpayment. Your husband will get a refund check separate from his regular monthly Social Security benefit. We hope this helps!

    • Taina O.

      DONT WAIT! My god woman verify whats happening. Call SSA go down to your local office ask for a manager get update on the check u already Sent and what might happen. The 17th of month is cut off for any changes to be made so your check doesnt get garnished or lowered. If he is get ting SSI only they cant touch it. But if he gets SSA they can take a percentage of it until monies they think you owe is paid back. If need help email me. tgo5353@gm Good Luck!

  5. Henry L.


  6. Henry L.


  7. Melvina M.

    My husband receives disability benefits. They were reduced due to my income several years back. However, my income has now reduced significantly. What do I do to get his benefits increased to what they were?

    • Sue

      Thank you for reading our blog, Melvina. Based on your question, it appears that your husband receives disability benefits under our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is a needs-based program that provides cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. Your income would affect your husband’s monthly SSI benefit, but not his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). We ask that members of our Blog community work with your local Social Security office to resolve this situation. You’ll find the phone number in our Social Security Office Locator. Unless you are your husband’s representative payee, your husband should make the call. Our call volume and wait times are longer than normal, so please be patient. We hope this information helps.

      • Don

        Not so. If you are on disability and getting a disability check, and your spouse makes money that makes your Part B premium more, the government takes more. You could end of giving back your entire check due to the max Part B premium penalty and taxes, not to mention the Medicare Supplement premium you have to also pay. The government will take your total check one way or the other.

  8. Frank

    This article fails to mention the increase amount in the deductible for Medicare B. Prices increase with little transparency. If you cannot be honestly accurate then don’t write about it.

    • Peter L.

      Frank just so I know,,,, and I am new to this….what was the deductible for Part B in 2019 and what is the projected deductible going to be for 2020 and 2021? Thanks again for being concise with your statement.

      • Vonda

        Hi Peter, thanks for using our blog. If you need information about Medicare Savings Programs, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug plans, or the covered services, please call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048) or visit We hope this helps.


    Because I reside overseas, I found that I was paying a monthly premium for part A medicare insurance that I as ineligible for so I cancelled coverage. I understand there is no mechanism for part A, coverage abroad…I have to pay for those things myself here, but I have never understood why overseas beneficiaries like myself can’t be reimbursed for things like Doctors’ visits, dental, etc. Also, does “safe harbor” provision apply to me?

    • Vonda

      Hi there. Thanks for using our blog. If you need information about Medicare Savings Programs, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug plans, or the covered services, please call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048) or visit We hope this helps.

  10. Sonia R.

    I’m lost don’t understand this clause . Please explain in law man’s terms . Thank you

    • Vonda

      Hi Sonia, thanks for using our blog. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security cost-of-living increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums. The Social Security Act contains a “hold harmless” provision that protects most beneficiaries. The amount of the benefit will stay the same even though the Medicare Part B premium increases.

    • Nora W.

      Part B premium went up. Monthly benefit went down. Why?

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