In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson explains how much income you can keep if your spouse goes in the nursing home.
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson from the Elder Care Law Group, serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area with Missouri offices in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and Jefferson county, and an office in O’Fallon, Illinois, and this is your Elder Law Minute. Today, I want to address the question of: In the case of a married couple with one spouse in the nursing home, how much income is the community spouse, the one who is not in the nursing home, allowed to keep?
First, I am going to tell you what the rules are, and lean in a little bit close, because I am going to share a great secret with you.
First, the rules. The community spouse gets something called a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMNA. In Illinois, as of now (and these numbers are subject to change over time), as of October of 2019, the community spouse gets an allowance of $2739 a month. In Missouri, it is within a range depending on shelter expenses and a couple other things, between a minimum of $2114 and a maximum of $3161 a month. That’s important because if that spouse has less income than that, they get part or in some cases, all of the income of the spouse who is in the nursing home to bring them up to that MMNA. But here is the really cool part.
The reality is that through planning, the community spouse can actually have as much income as they want to have. In Missouri, they get to keep it all. In Illinois, there’s a sliding scale where they have to contribute above a certain point about 12% of their income. But what is really cool about this is that the asset limits on how much the community spouse can keep are pretty much hard and fast, so what we can do with planning is to convert assets that a couple can’t keep into income that the community spouse can keep. It is the most powerful planning technique we have available for married couples. If you’re in that situation, or your parents are in that situation, or you know someone in that situation, please have them give us a call because we really can help, and it’s really going to make a big difference for them.
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The Elder Care Law Group is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Elder Care Law Group, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 932-5573 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.