Is a Medical Alert System Tax-Deductible?

Last Updated: January 27, 2022

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.

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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.

Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent collectively more than 1,700 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. To make our picks, here’s what we did:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports

Calculating taxes

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

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 Standard Deduction
Single $12,550
Married Filing Jointly $25,100
Married Filing Separately $12,550
Head of Household $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. 

Can I deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses?

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.

Can I claim my medical alert system on my taxes?

If a medical alert system records and stores health data that is readily available to health care providers, a portion of fees may be deducted on your tax return.

What qualifies as a qualified medical expense?

You can find a list of tax-deductible medical expenses on the Publication 502  page of the IRS website. You may be eligible for reimbursement of medical care expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents—including children and elderly parents.

How do I claim medical expenses in my tax return?

On Form 1040, you will have an option to itemize your return or take the standard deduction—a predetermined amount based on your filing status. Since medical expenses must be itemized, you will need to fill out a Schedule A form where you will list all medical expenses.

How far back can I claim medical expenses?

You can claim eligible medical expenses accrued in a 12-month period that ends in the current tax year. For example, the oldest medical expense you can claim on a 2021 return is an expense from January 2, 2020, with a claim period of January 2, 2020, to January 1, 2021.

Author: Elizabeth Schreckenberg

Resources:

Topic No. 502 Medical and Dental Expenses. IRS. (n.d.)
https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502

Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. IRS. (n.d.)
https://www.irs.gov/publications/p502

Keep on Your Feet – Preventing Older Adult Falls. CDC. (2020) https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html

Tips for Seniors Preparing Their Taxes. IRS. (n.d.) https://www.irs.gov/individuals/seniors-retirees/tips-for-seniors-in-preparing-their-taxes