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How to Claim Medical Deductions

Basic Deductibility


Determine that your overall itemized deductions are greater than the standard deduction for your filing status.


Make sure the medical expenses were for a qualified person. You, your spouse, your dependents or anyone for whom you paid more than half the support are qualified persons.

Qualified Medical Expenses


Add up all medical payments to doctors, dentists, eye doctors, nurses, acupuncturists, psychologists and any other provider of medical services.


Add up all medical payments to hospitals, clinics, laboratories, nursing homes and other medical facilities.


Total all expenses of surgeries, medical procedures, tests and therapies, including mental health, abortions and sterilizations.


Total all costs for prescriptions, including birth control pills and eyewear.


Include costs of artificial limbs or teeth, guide dogs, elastic hosiery, wheelchairs and other medical aids.


Include costs of air conditioners, humidifiers, heaters, special beds or mattresses, special telephones and other medically required equipment, if you obtained any of it for the purpose of medically helping an ill person.


Add up costs of treatment programs for alcohol, smoking and drugs. Include meals and lodging if they are necessary to the program.


Add up the costs of diet and exercise programs only if advised by a doctor for a specific medical problem.


Include the costs of special education. Meals and lodging can be part of this.


Include sex therapy if ordered by a doctor and performed at a hospital or clinic.


Add up medically needed home improvements. Only the cost that is more than the increase in fair market value to your home is a valid medical expense.


Calculate health insurance and long-term-care insurance costs not reimbursed or paid by an employer. Include Medicare deductions from Social Security benefits. There are dollar limits on long-term-care insurance premiums.


Figure out your transportation costs related to medical care. Deduct 10 cents per mile for use of your personal vehicle.


Total all these medical expenses.


Subtract any expenses paid by an insurance company.


Subtract 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.


Write the resulting medical deduction on the Schedule A.

Tips and Warnings

  • Therapists, authorized Christian Science practitioners, chiropractors and many other nontraditional health professionals are legitimate medical service providers - but the service must be clearly related to medical needs.
  • Expenses at a retirement or convalescent home can be medical expenses if they are medically necessary. In some cases, this is almost everything. Have a doctor specify what is medically necessary.
  • Meals for nursing care attendants working in your home are deductible. So is extra rent or other expenses for a larger apartment needed because of nursing care.
  • If a doctor prescribes or recommends an expense not listed here, research to see if it is specifically not allowed by the IRS. If not directly disallowed, you can probably deduct it.
  • Cosmetic surgery is not deductible unless related to a deformity.
  • Eye surgery for nearsightedness is not cosmetic surgery and is deductible.
  • Marijuana is not deductible even if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Maternity clothes are never deductible.
  • Programs for general health improvement, such as exercise or weight loss, are not deductible even if advised by a doctor. They must be for a specific problem.

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