Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

Protecting a Spouse When the Other Spouse Is in a Nursing Home — The Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

We recently received letter from a gentleman whose mother is currently in a nursing home. He was worried about his dad (not in the nursing home) having enough money to cover the costs of daily living. This is a very important issue that see quite frequently in our practice as not many people are aware of the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. Below is the letter, and then we’ll try to help explain a solution to this common problem.

Dear Nursing Home Guy,

My father had to put my mother in a nursing home about four years ago because he just couldn’t physically and mentally take care of her. Dad lives at home alone. My mother and father receive social security, my mother gets a small pension, and they both get a little interest on their savings account. Their total monthly income is about $2,100.

My father owns the house and he doesn’t have any debts. So my parents are just getting by on their small incomes. Recently, the nursing home told him that he needed to pay my mother’s income to the nursing home. This would leave my father destitute because he won’t be able to pay their bills.

He relies on both of their incomes each month. Does my father have to pay my mother’s income to the nursing home? Is there a way to preserve and protect my mother’s income for the benefit of my father?

Concerned Son

Thanks for the letter “Concerned Son.” I know that’s a tough situation for your dad. When you have a spouse and have been married for a long time, putting them in a nursing home is a tough decision. You do your best, but you get to a point where you just can’t do it any longer. That’s also tough for you as a son, knowing that your dad is no longer able to take care of your mom.

The statistics say that 60% of caregivers, meaning your father who was taking care of your mother — 60% of them pass before the person for whom they’re caring. So I’m glad your dad made that decision, albeit tough, and got your mother the help that she needs.

This is all of course very stressful. So let us take some load off you here. My first question would be why the nursing home has waited four years to ask for your mom’s income when they’re not entitled to it. With regards to Medicaid eligibility for nursing home payments, your mom’s income is her income and your dad’s income is his income. As a result, your mom’s eligibility is totally dependent upon her income, not your dad’s income.

If your mom and dad’s combined income is only $2,100 per month as your letter indicates, your mom’s income is indeed below the maximum amount allowed for Medicaid eligibility. Mom’s income is her income and dad’s income is his income. Their assets together are counted, but the house is of course an exempt asset. We don’t have any other information from the letter. But upon first glance, it appears mom is eligible for Medicaid to pay for her nursing home stay.

The Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

So how do we make sure that you mom’s income goes to your father and not the nursing home? The law says that just because you have to put your spouse in a nursing home, you can’t be penalized and be left penniless. You can’t be put into poverty just because a spouse needs additional care that you can no longer provide.

In this situation, we use what is called a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. Currently the monthly maintenance needs allowance is about $3,400 per month. Mom and dad’s income is around $2,100 per month, which means they’re below the monthly maintenance needs allowance requirements. In simple terms, this “allowance” allows your dad to reach over into your mom’s purse, and put her money into his wallet so that he can pay for his living expenses. The Federal law provides for this and the State law does as well. It’s just that the nursing home in this case is not aware of this rule.

If the nursing home tries to give you or your dad grief about this, give us a call and let us know. We’ll be glad to send them the current Medicaid rules on the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance and get it straight. We’re glad to help you get this situation resolved in any way we can. Again, we’re sorry about your mom and we wish you and your family the best. If you have any other questions, email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help you and your family protect and preserve assets for your long-term health and well being.

Contact Us So We Can Help

If you or a loved one has any additional questions about the monthly maintenance needs allowance, please email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help you and your family protect and preserve assets for your long-term health and well-being. You can also COMPLETE THIS FORM and we’ll contact you to schedule an appointment. If you’d like to see this blog in video format, you can watch it below. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel and click the bell notification button so that you’re notified each time we publish a new video.