Is A Medical Alert System Tax-Deductible?

As you begin to prepare your 2021 tax return, be sure to keep in mind that some of your health care expenses can be deducted. While the IRS doesn’t specifically mention medical alert systems under tax-deductible medical expenses, yours may be eligible depending on your income and health condition.

calculating tax
Updated onMay. 23, 2022

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Calculating taxes

On your tax return, you can deduct “qualified, unreimbursed medical expenses” that are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). To figure out your AGI, take your gross income and subtract allowances for personal deductions and itemized deductions. So if your AGI is $65,000, you would multiply it by .075 to find that any medical expenses over $4,875 can be deducted. 

According to the IRS, you may be able to deduct health care costs pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent. If that seems vague, the IRS lists eligible medical and dental expenses on its website, which include but are not limited to:

  • Fees paid to doctors and other medical specialists
  • Inpatient hospital or nursing home care
  • Inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol abuse
  • Prescription drugs
  • False teeth, contacts, glasses, hearing aids, and wheelchairs
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Home improvements to accommodate medical conditions, such as widening a doorway for a wheelchair
  • Health insurance premiums

As you can see in the above list, medical alert systems don’t stand out as something that can be deducted on your tax return. However, if you search on a page called Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses under “What Medical Expenses Are Includible,” there’s a qualifying category called “Medical Information Plan Expenses” that may be missed without talking to a tax expert. 

The Medical Information Plan includes expenses paid to keep health information in a data bank that can be readily made available to medical providers. Since some medical alert systems, such as Bay Alarm Medical, track and store health information that emergency responders can use, they are beneficial to a patient’s medical care—and thus are partially tax-deductible. Keep in mind that only those medical alert systems that monitor and store health data will qualify. 

Also remember that, if your unreimbursed medical expenses don’t exceed 7.5 percent of your AGI, you won’t be able to deduct your medical alert system.

If your medical alert system is tax-deductible, it’s always best to calculate whether filing an itemized return makes more sense than filing a standard return. To benefit from medical expense deductions, your total itemized deductions—medical expenses, state and local taxes, home mortgage interest and charitable contributions—will need to be greater than your available standard deduction.

The following standard deduction amounts for the 2021 tax year will give you an idea of what to expect if you don’t itemize your tax return.

FILING STATUS
Single
STANDARD DEDUCTION$12,550
Married Filing Jointly
STANDARD DEDUCTION$25,100
Married Filing Separately
STANDARD DEDUCTION$12,550
Head Of Household
STANDARD DEDUCTION$18,800

If you’re still not sure which option makes more sense, talk to a professional tax preparer. You may also want to review the IRS Tips for Seniors Preparing Their Tax Returns, which was developed to help older adults avoid common errors dealing with the standard deduction, the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, and the Credit for the Elderly and Disabled.

Taxpayer Filling

Even if you don’t qualify for a medical alert system deduction, some of the best medical alert systems are very affordable—and completely worth the purchase. Trusted products like GetSafe charge monthly monitoring fees of just $24.95 per month, while others, including MobileHelp, are under $20 per month. And since falls are the leading cause of injury and death in adults over 65, according to the CDC, medical alert systems with fall detection offer peace of mind for any senior who lives alone. It makes sense to splurge in order to keep you or a loved one safe.

To help you afford the cost of a medical alert system, ask your health insurance representative for advice. It won’t be covered under Medicare Part A, but some Medicare Advantage policies will pay for it. You may also be able to use funds from your medical savings account (MSA) or health savings account (HSA).

To make a long story short, the answer to whether or not a medical alert system is tax-deductible is: sometimes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Monitoring fees for a medical alert system that records and stores health data may be deducted under the category Medical Information Plan Expenses.
  • If a medical alert system does not record health data, it most likely does not qualify as tax-deductible.
  • You may only deduct your qualifying medical alert system if your total unreimbursed medical expenses are more than 7.5 percent of your AGI. 
  • To benefit from claiming your medical alert system, your total medical expenses, state and local taxes, home mortgage interest, and charitable contributions need to equal more than your standard deduction.

Whether a medical alert device is tax-deductible or not, its benefits outweigh the cost. Having help available 24/7 allows seniors to feel confident in their own homes, prevents family members from worrying, and brings a sense of security to everyone involved. If you’ve been considering buying a medical alert device but aren’t sure which is best, we’d love to help with your research. 

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

If the total of your unreimbursed, out-of-pocket medical expenses is more than 7.5 percent of your AGI, you can deduct them on your tax return.

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Author: Elizabeth Schreckenberg