How to Leverage Maryland Medicaid for Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Costs (Part III)

elderly couple and attorney

Understanding Spousal Impoverishment Rules

When navigating the financial landscape of long-term care, understanding the spousal impoverishment rules becomes essential. A unique facet of the Maryland Medical Assistance Long-Term Care program, these rules are designed to protect the financial stability of the spouse not requiring nursing home care. They can keep a specific portion of the couple’s resources and income without negatively impacting the Medicaid eligibility of their spouse in care. For purposes of applying for the program, these are the most complicated and difficult cases, because of the spousal allowances, and exclusions available to ensure that the non-recipient spouse is not impoverished.

Imagine this scenario: One spouse requires round-the-clock nursing home care, leaving the other spouse at home, potentially facing a mountain of expenses without a steady source of income. The spousal impoverishment rules work to counter this potential imbalance, ensuring the at-home spouse isn’t left financially destitute.

The goal here is to strike a balance between the need for nursing home care for one spouse and the ability of the remaining spouse to maintain a reasonable standard of living. This unique facet of the Medicaid program provides a safety net for couples navigating the often-unpredictable world of long-term care.

This might sound a bit technical, but essentially, these rules put a protective ring around a portion of the couple’s income and resources. This portion is considered off-limits for the purpose of Medicaid eligibility, hence ensuring the non-institutionalized spouse can continue to manage their living expenses. At the time of application, proper planning can ensure that the non-recipient spouse can retain their home, certain assets, and often claim the social security, pension, and other retirement income from the spouse who is receiving benefits.

It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and the specifics of the spousal impoverishment rules can vary. The set aside amount depends on a range of factors including income, cost of living and health status. Therefore, gaining a comprehensive understanding of these rules and how they apply to your specific circumstances can be invaluable in your Medicaid journey.

Understanding the spousal impoverishment rules is another piece of the puzzle in your pursuit of providing the best possible care for your loved one, while also ensuring a stable and secure financial future for the spouse still living at home.

By: Jeffrey D. Katz, Esq., Managing Partner, JDKatz, P.C.