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What is spousal impoverishment protection?

| Feb 22, 2021 | Elder Law |

As a married couple, you may have spent a lifetime doing everything together. However, there may come the point when this is no longer possible because one of you needs to go into long-term care. When this happens, it can place a considerable strain on your finances. Paying for healt hcare for one of you could leave the one left at home struggling to survive financially. In 1988, lawmakers introduced legislation to address this.

Medicaid can soon drain your resources

If you apply for Medicaid, the authorities will assess your assets. If you have above a certain amount, they will consider that you can pay for the health care yourself. With nursing homes costing a few thousand dollars per month, any funds you have saved can soon run out. It can leave nothing to pass to your children when you die. It could also leave your spouse struggling to pay the bills while alive.

Medicaid exempts specific assets when calculating your entitlement to financial assistance. Once you discount these, the rest of the assets that you and your spouse own are totaled up. Then under the spousal impoverishment laws, certain amounts are protected to allow your spouse who stays living in the community to have enough to survive. These include:

  • Community Spouse Resource Allowance: In 2021, the rules will protect up to around $130,000 of assets for the so-called community spouse.
  • Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance: This protects from around $2,000 to just over $3,200 per month of income for the community spouse.

Planning for the possibility that you or your spouse need long-term health care can be challenging. You can find further information about some of the other things to consider on our website.