When a spouse enters into a long-term care facility, the cost of that care can be catastrophic. Fortunately, there are federal laws that protect the healthier spouse from being impoverished. According to the federal statute, there are two important dates that elder law attorneys commonly refer to as the snap-shot date. These rules protect a portion of the assets for the healthier spouse.
According to applicable Medicaid laws, the healthier spouse is entitled to keep the marital residence, an automobile and personal effects. The balance of the assets is evaluated as of the first day of the first month of institutionalization. This is the first snap-shot date. The healthier spouse is entitled to one-half of these assets but no less than $27,480.00 and no more than $137,400.00. The amount that the healthier spouse can keep is known as the Community Spousal Resource Allowance, or CSRA.
The second snap-shot is the first day of the first month in which Medicaid eligibility is to be established. In order to obtain Medicaid assistance, the healthier spouse must have no more than the maximum CSRA that is calculated as a result of the first snap-shot date. The institutionalized spouse must have no more than $2,000.00. Although joint accounts are considered to be owned by the institutionalized spouse, the applicable federal law allows the assets to be transferred from husband and wife to the healthier spouse. This is set forth in 42 U.S.C. §1396r-5 (f) (1). New Jersey law requires the transfer to take place within 90 days of the date of Medicaid eligibility. This is set forth in the following New Jersey Medicaid regulation: N.J.A.C. 10:71-4.8 (a) 3.