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Gardner Elder Law Attorneys Protect Spouses When One Enters a Nursing Home

Spouses remaining at home are at risk when their partners engage long-term care

When one spouse enters a nursing home for long-term health care, the spouse left in the community may feel fear of financial hardship to pay the high cost of institutionalized care. Medicaid rules protect the at-home spouse's income and assets without affecting the ability of the spouse in the nursing home to receive public aid. However, the laws appear to protect only a moderate amount. Elder law attorneys at Stockton & Stern LLC help preserve marital resources, so spouses can pay the cost institutional care for one, while the other lives independently, with dignity, in the community.

What is spousal impoverishment?

When one spouse enters long-term care in a nursing home, the costs can range from $5,000 to $8,000 per month, or more. Nursing home costs can easily exceed the income of older adults and quickly deplete investments and savings. So, the spouse who remains at home will soon have little to no income or resources to rely on; a condition termed "spousal impoverishment." The Medicaid spousal impoverishment rules protect the community spouse when the stay of the other spouse in the nursing home exceeds 30 consecutive days. The rules disregard state laws on community property and division of marital property.

Medicaid rules protect income and resources for the spouse living at home

For certain beneficiaries who receive Medicaid long-term services and supports under the spousal impoverishment rules, states are required to exclude a certain share of the couple's income and resources. A certain amount of the institutionalized spouse's income can be reserved for the spouse in the community, depending on his or her income. Recipients of Medicaid in nursing homes use their income to pay the cost of the nursing home. Medicaid supplements the recipient's income to meet the nursing home costs according to the program's "post-eligibility rules." These rules determine how much the institutionalized spouse contributes to the cost of care and how much is reserved for the spouse in the community. The rules are applied after Medicaid eligibility is established.

What determines the spouse's contribution to nursing home costs?

The institutionalized spouse's total income is calculated and then reduced by "protected amounts." These protected amounts include:

After the protected amounts for allowances and expenses are deducted, the remaining income is used by the spouse in the nursing home to pay long-term healthcare costs.

Kansas elder law attorneys preserve income and assets for spouses living apart in nursing homes and communities

Medicaid rules require states to use the spousal impoverishment provisions to determine the eligibility of an institutionalized spouse. The rules protect income and resources of the couple for the spouse who stays in the community. If your spouse lives in a nursing home while you live at home, it's important to discuss your options with experienced estate planning attorneys. Stockton and Stern LLC lawyers are committed to preserving resources for you and your spouse to live independently and free of financial stress. Call us at (913) 856-2828 or contact us online.