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No Change in Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Standards for 2010

Last Updated: 11/12/09

For the first time since 1989, when a law was enacted protecting the spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients from impoverishment, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is not raising its guidelines for how much money the husbands or wives of institutionalized Medicaid recipients may keep. With no increase in the consumer price index on which these figures are based, the resource and income guidelines that prevailed in 2009 will apply in 2010 as well. This follows the announcement by Social Security Administration that there would be no cost of living increase in Social Security benefits.

In 2009 and 2010, the spouse of a Medicaid recipient living in a nursing home (called the "community spouse") can keep as much as $109,560 without jeopardizing the Medicaid eligibility of the spouse who is receiving long-term care. Called the "community spouse resource allowance," 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 2009 and 2010 is $21,912 .

Meanwhile, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance for 2009 and 2010 is $2,739. This is the most in monthly income that a community spouse is allowed to have if her own income is not enough to live on and she must take some or all of the institutionalized spouse's income. The minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance of $1,821.25 took effect July 1, 2009, and will not change until July 1, 2010. 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 her own income, even if it exceeds the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance.

For a more complete explanation of the community spouse resource allowance and the monthly maintenance needs allowance, click here.