How Many Years Can You Go Back to Claim Medical Expenses: A Concise Guide

How Many Years Can You Go Back to Claim Medical Expenses Stethoscope with financial statement

Navigating the world of medical expenses and tax deductions can be challenging. One question you might have is how many years you can go back to claim medical expenses on your taxes.

The answer to this question has a direct impact on your tax return, and understanding the rules can help you maximize your deductions and save money.

Nonetheless, this comprehensive and detailed article will answer the question: how many years can you go back to claim medical expenses? Let’s begin by finding the eligibility for deducting medical expenses.

Eligibility for Deducting Medical Expenses

Deductible Medical Expenses

Deductible medical expenses include the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, and prevention of diseases affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include:

  • Payments to doctors, dentists, surgeons, and other medical practitioners.
  • Prescription medicines or insulin.
  • Medical equipment, supplies, or devices.
  • The premiums paid for health insurance if they are not reimbursed.

For tax returns filed in 2023, you can deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your 2022 adjusted gross income. For example, if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, the first $3,750 of qualified expenses (7.5% of $50,000) don’t count.

Eligible Taxpayers and Dependents

If you’re an eligible taxpayer, you can claim medical expenses on your own behalf, your spouse’s (if filing jointly), and your dependents. To qualify as an eligible taxpayer, you need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A of your tax return.

You can include medical expenses for individuals who would have been your dependents, except they:

  • Received gross income of $4,400 or more in 2022.
  • Filed a joint return for 2022.
  • You, or your spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2022 return.

Keep in mind the rules and limitations when claiming medical expenses as deductions, and always consult a tax professional if you’re unsure about any aspect of your tax return.

Calculating Medical Expense Deductions

Standard vs. Itemized Deductions

When it comes to claiming medical expenses on your taxes, you’ll need to choose between taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions.

The standard deduction is a fixed amount based on your filing status that reduces your taxable income. Itemized deductions, on the other hand, allow you to list specific expenses, such as medical costs, to potentially lower your taxable income further.

If you believe your total itemized deductions, including medical expenses, will be greater than your standard deduction, then itemizing is likely the better choice for you.

Keep in mind, however, that you can only deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2022, as specified in Publication 502 (2022), Medical and Dental Expenses.

Adjusted Gross Income Threshold

As mentioned before, you can only deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI, according to the IRS.

To determine your AGI, you can refer to line 11 on your 2022 Form 1040. To calculate the amount of medical expenses you can deduct, follow these steps:

  1. Calculate 7.5% of your AGI.
  2. Subtract this amount from your total unreimbursed medical expenses.
  3. The remaining amount is the portion of medical expenses that can be deducted.

For example, let’s assume your AGI is $50,000:

  • 7.5% of $50,000 = $3,750.
  • If your total unreimbursed medical expenses are $10,000, subtract the $3,750 threshold: $10,000 – $3,750 = $6,250.
  • In this case, you can deduct $6,250 in medical expenses.

Remember that itemizing deductions might benefit you only if the sum of all your itemized deductions is greater than the standard deduction for your filing status. Compare the numbers and choose the option that lowers your taxable income the most.

Qualified Medical Expenses and Limitations

When claiming medical expenses on your tax return, it’s important to understand which expenses qualify and the limitations that apply. In this section, we’ll cover common qualified medical expenses, non-deductible medical expenses, and some limitations to keep in mind.

Common Qualified Medical Expenses

Qualified medical expenses are those that you, your spouse, or your dependents incur for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Some common examples include:

  • Doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, and psychologists fees
  • Prescription medications, insulin, and glasses
  • Surgeries, excluding cosmetic surgery (unless medically necessary)
  • Transportation costs to and from medical appointments
  • Long-term care insurance premiums
  • Hearing aids, false teeth, and contact lenses
  • Guide dogs and service animals.

To claim these expenses, you’ll need to itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).

Non-Deductible Medical Expenses

Certain medical expenses cannot be deducted on your tax return. Some examples of non-deductible expenses are:

  • Health club and gym memberships for general health
  • Vitamins and dietary supplements, unless prescribed by a doctor
  • Cosmetic procedures, unless medically necessary
  • Non-prescription drugs or medicines
  • Diet food and beverages
  • Childcare for a healthy child

Refer to the IRS Publication 502 for a comprehensive list of non-deductible medical expenses.


When claiming medical expenses on your tax return, there are limitations to be aware of. First, you can only deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) found on line 11 of your 2022 Form 1040. For example, if your AGI is $50,000, the first $3,750 of qualified expenses (7.5% of $50,000) don’t count. If you had $5,000 of unreimbursed medical expenses in 2022, you would be able to deduct $1,250.

Additionally, your medical expenses must be incurred within the tax year you are claiming. You may claim medical expenses for any 12-month period ending in that year as long as it was not claimed in previous years. Remember to keep all documentation supporting your claim, such as receipts and bills, for at least three years in case of an IRS audit.

How to Claim Medical Expense Deductions

Filing Process and Forms

When filing your taxes, you may be able to claim medical expenses from previous tax years. To do so, you’ll need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A of your Form 1040.

Note that you can only claim eligible medical expenses paid in any 12-month period ending in the tax year and not claimed by you or anyone else in the prior year.

For example, if you want to claim medical expenses from the prior year (2022), the 12-month claim period must end in 2022, and the oldest expense you can claim is from January 2, 2022 (source). To determine the deductible medical expenses, review the guidelines in Publication 502.

Documentation and Recordkeeping

When claiming medical expense deductions, proper documentation, and recordkeeping are crucial. Here’s a list of essential items to maintain:

  • Keep track of all medical bills and statements from your healthcare providers.
  • Retain receipts for medical payments, including those made through your insurance.
  • Maintain a log of travel expenses related to medical services.

Remember, you must make sure that you’re claiming medical expenses only for services that the the Revenue Agency considers eligible .

It’s essential to keep these records for at least six years, as the revenue agency may request further documentation to support your claim during an audit. By following these guidelines, you’ll be better prepared to claim medical expense deductions on your tax return and potentially increase your tax refund.

Reimbursed Medical Expenses and Taxes

Reimbursement Impact

When dealing with medical expenses and taxes, it’s important to understand the impact reimbursements can have on your claims. If you’ve been reimbursed for any medical expense, you cannot deduct that amount from your taxes.

In other words, only unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income can be deducted from your taxable income if you itemize your deductions.

To help keep track of your reimbursements, consider maintaining a record of all medical expenses you incurred throughout the year. Additionally, keep all receipts and documentation for reimbursements, as this will be useful when filing your taxes.

Amending Tax Returns for Incorrect Deductions

If you’ve realized that you’ve incorrectly deducted reimbursed medical expenses on a previous tax return, don’t panic. You can fix the mistake by filing an amended tax return using Form 1040X. This form is specifically designed for taxpayers who need to make changes to their returns after they’ve been filed.

Keep in mind that there are certain time restrictions for amending tax returns. Generally, you have three years from the date you filed your original return or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to file an amended return.

While amending your tax return may seem overwhelming, it’s crucial to correct any errors to ensure your tax records are accurate and to avoid potential penalties from the IRS. By understanding the impact of reimbursements on your medical expenses and taking the appropriate steps to fix any mistakes, you can maintain a clear and accurate financial record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Impact on Social Security Benefits

In some cases, claiming unreimbursed medical expenses can have an impact on your Social Security benefits. It’s essential to consider your financial situation and specific circumstances when determining whether to deduct medical expenses from your taxes.

For example, if you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, deductible medical expenses might affect your eligibility or benefit amount. Remember, it is crucial to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how claiming medical expenses might impact Social Security Benefits for your specific case.

Effect of Health Savings Accounts on Deductions

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can provide a tax-advantaged way to save for medical expenses. Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.

However, if you use funds from your HSA to pay for medical expenses, these expenses won’t qualify for the medical expense deduction on your tax return. The medical expense deduction is only applicable for expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, and only for costs not reimbursed or paid by an HSA or other tax-advantaged accounts.

When considering claiming medical expenses on your tax return, be aware that taxpayers can only claim expenses for specific services incurred within the 12-month period you choose. Examples of deductible medical expenses include:

  • Insurance premiums that are not paid by your employer
  • Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, such as copayments and coinsurance
  • Alternative treatments, like acupuncture
  • Diagnostic devices, such as blood sugar monitors for diabetics
  • Nursing care and long-term care services
  • X-rays and other imaging services

In summary, while utilizing an HSA can provide tax advantages, it’s essential to be aware of the restrictions and potential impacts on your overall tax situation, including the medical expense deduction and Social Security benefits.

Make sure to carefully evaluate your expenses and consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to determine the most advantageous approach for your specific circumstances.


In conclusion, you can only claim medical expenses on the tax year they were incurred. It’s important that you maintain accurate records of your medical expenses and consider whether claiming the deduction is beneficial to you in a given tax year.

Remember, the medical expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for you to claim them on your tax return. Therefore, if this threshold isn’t met, it’s not an option.

When preparing your taxes, assess if you meet these requirements before moving forward:

  • You have unreimbursed medical expenses from that tax year
  • Those expenses are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income
  • You are choosing to itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction

As you gather your receipts and documentation, keep in mind the various types of medical expenses that may be eligible for a deduction, such as payments made to doctors, dentists, surgeons, and other medical practitioners. Consult the IRS guidelines for additional information on eligible medical expenses.

Always take care when filing your taxes, and when in doubt, consult a professional for guidance. By understanding the requirements and keeping your records organized, you can ensure that you are maximizing your potential tax deductions and minimizing errors on your tax return.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How Successful Are Personal Injury Claims? A Comprehensive Analysis
How Successful Are Personal Injury Claims?

How Successful Are Personal Injury Claims? A Comprehensive Analysis

When you suffer an injury, it can be a traumatic and life-altering experience

Broken Shoulder Injury Claim: How to File and Win
Broken Shoulder Injury Claim

Broken Shoulder Injury Claim: How to File and Win

If you have suffered a broken shoulder injury due to an accident caused by

You May Also Like