Change in Medicaid Laws Allow a Spouse to Keep More Assets

elderly couple holding hands

If a husband or wife requires long-term care in a nursing home facility, then that care can quickly deplete their life savings.  Most nursing home facilities in this area charge more than $120,000.00 a year for a basic semi-private room.  After the family’s assets are depleted and exhausted on long-term care, then Medicaid will help pay for that person’s care in a nursing home.

There are federal and state laws that are designed to prevent the healthier spouse from being impoverished due to these circumstances.  According to both federal and state law, all assets owned by husband and wife are evaluated, but the healthier spouse can keep the house, personal effects, an automobile and a portion of the remaining assets.  The healthier spouse can keep one half of the remaining assets but no more than a ceiling that federal law imposes.  Last year the maximum amount of assets that the healthier spouse could keep was set at $126,420.00. 

Effective January 1, 2020, the maximum amount of assets that the healthier spouse can keep has increased to $128,640.00.  This is known as the “Community Spousal Resource Allowance” or “CSRA”.

If husband and wife own a house, automobile and cash assets of $300,000.00, then if the husband were to enter into a nursing home facility the wife can keep the house, automobile and $128,640.00 of the cash assets.  The remaining cash assets of $171,360.00 would be subject to the Medicaid spend-down process in order to qualify the husband for Medicaid.