Florida Medicaid’s Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance, MMMNA for short, increases to $2,288.75 effective July 1, 2022 (up from $2,177.50). This is an important change if you or a loved one apply for Medicaid benefits for nursing home care in Florida. Here is an overview of the MMMNA and its impact on applicant and spouse:
In Florida, the income of the Medicaid applicant’s well spouse (also known as the “community spouse”) has no bearing on an applicant’s eligibility. There is no limitation on the well spouse’s monthly income, and no obligation for the well spouse to use his/her income to pay the applicant’s nursing home expenses. The applicant’s income must be paid to the nursing home (“patient responsibility”), but the applicant may retain $130 of his/her monthly income for personal expenses, plus whatever amount is necessary to cover the cost of supplemental medical insurance.
In addition, to avoid impoverishment of the well spouse, Medicaid allows the applicant to divert a portion of his/her income to the well spouse. The amount that may be diverted is the amount necessary to elevate the spouse’s income to the MMMNA. Example: Let’s say Mr. Smith has entered a nursing home and applies for Medicaid benefits. His spouse’s monthly income is $2,000, which is $228.75 below the MMMNA of $2,288,75. Therefore, Medicaid will allow Mr. Smith to divert $288.75 of his own monthly income to Mrs. Smith.
However, there are circumstances in which the MMMNA may be even higher than $2,288.75. One circumstance is if the well spouse’s housing and utilities expenses exceed certain federal guidelines. In this case, the applicant can divert sufficient income to bring the spouse’s income as high as $3,435. Another circumstance is if a court order of support for the well spouse is entered based upon the well spouse’s additional expenses; in this case the applicant may be able to divert even more funds, bringing the well spouse’s monthly income above $3,435. Interestingly, such a court order applies only to the current spouse; if an applicant is obligated to pay alimony to a former spouse, it may not be deducted from the applicant’s patient responsibility to the nursing home.
There are many, many more rules for Medicaid eligibility in Florida that apply to applicant and spouse, and the rules are always in a state of flux. If it looks like your loved one does not qualify for benefits, do not count him/her out. There are several legal strategies that may allow your loved one to access benefits and to preserve a good portion of assets before you “spend down” and lose everything. Steps can often be taken even if your loved one is already in a nursing home – in fact, this kind of crisis planning is the norm for the majority of clients who seek our services. To schedule a consultation with The Karp Law Firm, call (561) 625-1100.
Learn more about Medicaid benefits for long-term nursing care.