Will the stimulus payment affect an individual’s Medicaid and SSI benefits eligibility?

Shot of an elderly couple working out a budget while sitting on the living room sofa

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, has resulted in most individuals receiving a one-time Economic Impact payment from the IRS to help them stay afloat during these difficult times while simultaneously providing a boost to the national economy.  People with disabilities and elderly people who receive SSI and Medicaid benefits are among those who have received the stimulus checks.

Although the stimulus checks have been a welcome relief to most individuals, SSI recipients and Medicaid long-term care beneficiaries may be concerned that their stimulus checks will disqualify them from these programs, by pushing them over the income and asset eligibility limits.  Representative payees and others who manage the funds of SSI recipients and Medicaid beneficiaries may be uncertain about the effect of the stimulus payments on the people whose funds they manage.  And spouses of people who receive Medicaid long-term services may worry that their own stimulus checks will jeopardize their spouse’s Medicaid eligibility.

Fortunately, the COVID-19 Economic Impact stimulus checks should not disqualify SSI recipients or Medicaid beneficiaries. Here’s why:

SSI

The Social Security Administration will not consider COVID-19 Economic Impact payments as income for SSI recipients, so the stimulus payment will not disqualify an SSI recipient from eligibility due to being over-income in the month the payment is received.

The stimulus payments are also excluded as resources (assets) for 12 months.  This means that the stimulus payment can remain in an SSI recipient’s bank account for up to 12 months without being counted toward the $2,000 SSI resource limit.  If the Economic Impact payments are not fully spent within 12 months of receipt, the money will count toward the SSI $2,000 resource limit at that point.

Medicaid

Similarly, the Medicaid program will not count the stimulus money as income in the month it is received, which means the money cannot push the Medicaid beneficiary over the Medicaid income limit for that month.

And like the SSI program, Medicaid will not count the stimulus payment as a resource for 12 months from the date of receipt.  The stimulus money can stay in the Medicaid recipient’s bank account for 12 months without being counted toward the $2,000 Medicaid resource eligibility limit.  Any stimulus funds still remaining after twelve months will be counted as a resource/asset at that time.

Spouses of Medicaid Long-Term Care Recipients

An individual who is not covered by Medicaid may be married to a spouse on Medicaid who receives caregiving services at home, or who lives in a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult care home, or other long-term care facilities.  The non-Medicaid spouse is sometimes referred to as the “Community Spouse.”  The Community Spouse’s stimulus check should have no impact on the Medicaid eligibility of the Medicaid spouse for two reasons.  First, the money from the stimulus check is not considered income by Medicaid.  Second, even if it were, the Community Spouse’s income does not affect the ongoing Medicaid eligibility of the Medicaid spouse.

Finally, because the Community’s Spouse’s resources are only considered during the Medicaid initial eligibility determination process, the Community Spouse does not need to spend his or her stimulus payment within 12 months.  The Community Spouse’s stimulus payment will not affect the Medicaid spouse regardless of how long the money remains in the Community Spouse’s bank account.

The information above has been provided by Nay & Friedenberg Attorney Julia Greenfield. If you or a family member are in need advice regarding any of the topics covered in this blog, please feel to contact one of the Elder Law attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg LLC at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment