In Elder Law News

Closeup view of senior couple clasping each other's hands.The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the 2023 federal guidelines for how much money the spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients may keep, as well as related Medicaid figures.

What Are Spousal Impoverishment Rules?

Spousal impoverishment is a concern for older couples when there is one spouse who requires long-term care and applies for Medicaid.

Before the federal government enacted spousal impoverishment protections, many healthy spouses faced poverty when their partners needed long-term care. The spousal impoverishment rules are based on the idea that spouses will provide for each other.

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

In 2023, the spouse of a Medicaid recipient living in a nursing home (called the “community spouse“) may keep as much as $148,240 without jeopardizing the Medicaid eligibility of the spouse who is receiving long-term care.

Known as the community spouse resource allowance (CSRA), this is the most that a state may allow a community spouse to retain without a hearing or a court order. While some states set a lower maximum, the least that a state may allow a community spouse to retain in 2023 will be $29,724.

Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

Meanwhile, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance (MMMNA) for 2023 will be $3,715.50. This is the most in monthly income that a community spouse is allowed to have if their own income is not enough to live on and they must take some or all of the institutionalized spouse's income.

The minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance for the lower 48 states will be $2,288.75 ($2,861.25 for Alaska and $2,632.50 for Hawaii) until July 1, 2023.

In determining how much income a particular community spouse is allowed to retain, states must abide by this upper and lower range. Bear in mind that these figures apply only if the community spouse needs to take income from the institutionalized spouse.

According to Medicaid law, the community spouse may keep all their own income, even if it exceeds the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance.

The new spousal impoverishment numbers (except for the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance) take effect on January 1, 2023.

Learn more about the CSRA and the monthly maintenance needs allowance.

Home Equity Limits

In 2023, a Medicaid applicant’s principal residence will not be counted as an asset by Medicaid if the applicant's equity interest in the home is less than $688,000. States have the option of raising this limit to $1,033,000.

For more information on Medicaid’s home equity limit, read this ElderLawAnswers story.

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