When Your Spouse is In the Nursing Home

When Your Spouse is In the Nursing Home, Get Better Results with the Right Actions and Advice
When your spouse is in the nursing home, don’t expect the Medicaid Office to tell you how to protect yourself. Here are tips you need to know to protect yourself, your spouse and your assets.

Tips for Getting Medicaid for Your Spouse

When your spouse is in the nursing home, you feel your world crashing down. It’s a difficult time. Are you too late to protect your loved one, your family and your life savings? There is hope…and it’s not too late if you get the right advice. In fact, I’ve even written you an excused “Late Pass” so you won’t feel tardy!

Yes, many couples in this situation panic once they hear that Medicare stops paying. They’ve seen friends or family spend nearly all of their retirement savings on nursing home care, leaving the surviving spouse impoverished for the rest of his or her life.

And if you go to the Medicaid Office for help, you’ll likely hear that you need to spend half of your money (or more!) and apply again later after you’ve spent much of your hard-earned retirement assets.

Don’t let that happen to you! With the right help you can make sure your spouse gets needed nursing home care, without going broke. The key is to use a Federal and State rule in a way that we’ve helped clients for years. But don’t expect to hear about it from the Medicaid Office.

For couples with one spouse in a nursing home, your family’s future depends on these 4 letters: “CSRA.” That stands for the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. It’s the amount of money that a healthy spouse can keep and still qualify the ill spouse for Medicaid in the nursing home. The CSRA amount, which the healthy spouse can keep by law, is one-half of the countable assets up to a maximum number set each year. In 2015, it is about $119,000. For example, if the couple has $150,000, the healthy spouse can keep $75,000. If they have $250,000, the healthy spouse only can keep the $119,220.

When calculating CSRA you must know the “snapshot date,” which is the date that CSRA is calculated. It’s the last day of the month immediately prior to either spouse’s first “period of institutionalization” lasting 30 days or more. So, if Mary’s husband, Bob, goes into the hospital on June 15, and then goes to a nursing home for a combined stay of at least 30 days, their snapshot date is May 31. Their CSRA will be based on the assets Bob and Mary owned as of May 31, not when Bob applies later for Medicaid.

Even better, with the right guidance Mary can keep much more than CSRA. Don’t “spend down” like the Medicaid Office tells you to do. That’s because the healthy spouse can “convert” countable assets to a “stream of income” that would allow Mary to keep all of her income, and nearly all of the assets. For Mary in our example, that’s the difference between protecting nearly all of her and Bob’s retirement savings, or being broke the rest of her life. Clearly, take action or it can become TOO LATE!

Naturally it’s best to plan ahead. But when a nursing home crisis hits your family, getting the right guidance is like having a “Late Pass” for protecting you and your family.