Virginia Estate Planning Attorney Comments on Knowing the Rules for Medicaid’s Community Spouse Resource Allowance



Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 28, 2016 – Under Medicaid law, there are certain security measures for the spouses of those applying for Medicaid to make certain they possess the necessary minimum support to reside in the community at a time when their husband or wife is in receipt of long-term care benefits, generally in a nursing home.

The spousal protections function in the following way: if the person applying for Medicaid is married, the countable assets of both spouses are combined as of the date on which the ill spouse was admitted to either a hospital or long-term facility in which he or she remains for a minimum of 30 days. This is referred to as the “snapshot” date because Medicaid examines the assets owned by the couple on this date.

Andrew H. Hook, a prominent Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center, with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk, states, “Spouses should become aware of the various protections offered by Medicaid, and are advised to consult a Medicaid attorney who can counsel them about the rules that are applicable to their situation.”

To qualify for Medicaid benefits, someone who resides in a nursing home can have a maximum of $2,000 in assets. Usually, the community spouse can retain one-half of the couple’s “countable” assets, up to a maximum of $119,220. The minimum amount a state may permit a community spouse to keep is $23,840.

However, there are some states that are more liberal toward the community spouse. In such states, the community spouse can retain up to $119,220, whether or not this amount is half of the couple’s assets. For instance, if the couple owned $100,000 in countable assets, the community spouse could retain the whole amount, instead of only half.

The community spouse’s income is not considered in deciding whether the applicant is eligible for Medicaid. Only the applicant’s income is counted. Therefore, even if the community spouse still works and earns, for instance, $8,000 per month, that spouse will not be required to help pay the cost of nursing home care for the ill spouse if the ill spouse has Medicaid coverage. However, in some states, if the community spouse’s income is greater than a certain amount, that spouse must make a financial contribution toward the cost of the other spouse’s care.

It is also possible for the majority of the couple’s income to be in the name of the spouse who was admitted to a nursing home. And the income earned by the community spouse may be insufficient to support that spouse. In this case, the community spouse has a right to a portion or all of the monthly income of the spouse in the nursing home. The amount is dependent on what the Medicaid agency thinks is a minimum income for the community spouse. This is called the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance, or MMMNA, which is calculated on the basis of the community spouse’s housing costs. In special situations, the community spouse may try to obtain an increase in the MMMNA by filing an appeal with the state Medicaid agency or by securing a court order of spousal support.

Rules specific to Virginia

In Virginia, there are specific rules regarding Medicaid’s community spouse resource allowance. The community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) in Virginia ranges from a minimum of $23,844 to a maximum of $119,220. The minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance, or MMMNA, ranges from a minimum of $2,002.50 to a maximum of $2,980.50.