Each fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) renews the federal guidelines that seek to protect individuals whose spouses are applying for or receiving Medicaid long-term care benefits.
These protections, known as the Spousal Impoverishment Standards, help to support the financial well-being of seniors who continue residing at home while their spouse on Medicaid lives in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home.
Qualifying for Medicaid Long-Term Care Benefits
Long-term care is prohibitively expensive for many, so a large share of adults aged 65 and older rely on Medicaid to help cover the costs.
To qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits, however, one must generally have very limited resources. In Kansas, the asset limit is set at $2,000 for the Medicaid applicant. The applicant’s income typically goes to the nursing home as well, with some exceptions.
So, what happens if a person who qualifies for Medicaid long-term care is married? How can their healthy spouse afford to remain on their own at home? This is where the Spousal Impoverishment guidelines help.
2024 Spousal Impoverishment Figures
Note that most of the latest figures, outlined below, will go into effect January 1, 2024.
Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA)
A spouse who continues living at home while their partner receives long-term care coverage through Medicaid can keep up to $154,140 in assets starting in 2024.
The healthy spouse, referred to as the “community spouse” then has a minimum amount of assets to live on without rendering their Medicaid spouse ineligible for benefits. This special protection is known as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). The maximum CSRA generally rises each year; in Kansas for 2023 it is $148,620.
Meanwhile, according to federal law, no state can set the minimum CSRA below $30,828 as of 2024, up from $29,724 for 2023.
Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA)
In addition to CSRA, the federal government offers another level of protection for the community spouse: the (MMMNA).
The MMNA ensures that the healthy spouse who continues to live in the couple’s home maintains a certain amount of monthly income while their partner receives their Medicaid long-term care coverage. (Learn more about the ins and outs of MMMNA.)
In 2024, the maximum MMMNA will be $3,853.50, up from $3,715.50 in 2023. Again, this is the most in monthly income that the community spouse can keep while their spouse lives in a long-term care institution (if the community spouse’s own income is below the minimum). If the healthy spouse does not make enough income to live on, this allowance comes from the income of the spouse on Medicaid.
Note that the minimum MMNA for 2024 can vary depending on the state of residence. Alaska and Hawaii typically have slightly higher minimums. The federal government updates the minimum MMNA each July.
Home Equity Limits
As mentioned above, Medicaid does not consider the primary home of an applicant as a countable asset, unless the applicant’s equity interest in their home is above a certain amount.
Your home equity equals your home’s value minus the sum of any loans you owe on the home. In 2024, the home equity limit is set to $713,000, up from $688,000 in 2023.
Work With an Elder Law Attorney
Medicaid is a complicated area of the law and whether you are looking to pre-plan by utilizing advanced estate planning techniques like Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, or you have a family member entering into long-term and are in need of immediate assistance (Medicaid Crisis Care), reach out to our office. Even in crisis cases, there may still be options to preserve assets of your estate, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it can be.
Our consultations are always at no cost, so click the button below or call one of our offices to schedule: Leawood (913) 386.8135 or Spring Hill (913) 592.2029