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What happens to your spouse’s income if they are admitted to a nursing home?

Oct. 20, 2021

Medicaid has recently made some changes to provide protection for certain individuals, should their spouse be admitted to a nursing home. This protection is provided for individuals whose significant others are the breadwinners of the household.

While Medicaid does limit the assets that a spouse of a Medicaid applicant is allowed to retain, the income of the healthy spouse is not factored in when determining their spouse’s eligibility. When determining the eligibility, Medicaid only factors in the income in the applicant’s name. This means if the healthy spouse is still employed and earning money, as long as their significant other is signed up through Medicaid, they will not have to contribute to caring for the spouse in the nursing home.

Now, as mentioned above, if the individual going into the nursing home is the breadwinner, Medicaid has created a way for the healthy spouse to still be able to live within their means. In some cases, the healthy spouse may be entitled to some of the institutionalized spouse’s monthly income. Medicaid will determine how much the healthy spouse needs to survive. Through a complicated formula, they calculate what the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance is for the healthy spouse. This typically ranges from as low as $2,177.50 to as high as $2,259.50 a month (based on 2021 numbers.) If the healthy spouse's monthly income falls below their minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance, then the rest is made up from the nursing home spouse's income.

To help you understand further, here is an example: Joe and Sally Smith have a joint income of $2,600 a month, $1,900 of which is in Mr. Smith's name and $700 is in Ms. Smith's name. Mr. Smith enters a nursing home and applies for Medicaid. The Medicaid agency determines that Ms. Smith's MMMNA is $2,200 (based on her housing costs). Since Ms. Smith's own income is only $700 a month, the Medicaid agency allocates $1,500 of Mr. Smith's income to her support. Since Mr. Smith also may keep a $60-a-month personal needs allowance, his obligation to pay the nursing home is only $340 a month ($1,900 - $1,500 - $60 = $340).

If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is needing to go to a nursing home, and you think this may benefit you, give us a call. We will help guide you through the steps and make sure you’re both taken care of.

Reference: https://attorney.elderlawanswers.com/newsletter/actions/view-content/type/ela/f/9807/id/12496/is-content-hub/3553