Medicaid Changes How the Spousal Support Is Calculated

husband and wife holding hands in the snow

Most residents in a nursing home facility must use all of their monthly income to contribute to the cost of long-term care.  Medicaid then pays the balance of that care.  A nursing home resident, however, is allowed to keep $50.00 as a Personal Needs Allowance (PNA), pay for health insurance premiums and pay spousal support to the healthier spouse.  The amount of the spousal support is based in part upon the “shelter” expenses.

In determining the amount of spousal support that the healthier spouse can keep, Medicaid will inquire as to the healthier spouse’s monthly shelter costs, which are limited to the mortgage, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and utilities.  Since it is often difficult to determine the utility expenses for a healthier spouse because the bills were previously incurred by both husband and wife, the State of New Jersey has a standard allowance for utilities and is referred to as the standard utility allowance.  Until recently the standard utility allowance was $583.00. 

The Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) issued Medicaid Communication No. 22-07.  According to this directive from the DMAHS, the standard utility allowance increased from $583.00 to $730.00 per month.  This is a 25% increase in the standard utility allowance.  This should assist married couples in having a larger spousal support awarded for the healthier spouse.