Every January, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) releases updated figures for Medicaid qualification. Occasionally, there are not any increases in the Medicaid figures just as in some years there is not a cost of living increase for Social Security benefits. For 2019, just as Social Security recipients received a slight increase, MDHHS has also increased its Medicaid figures.
The maximum spousal share is the maximum amount of countable assets that the at-home spouse is allowed to keep. For 2018, the amount was $123,600. For 2019, the maximum spousal share is increased to $126,420. This means that if a married couple has $252,840 or more in countable assets, the at-home spouse will now be able to keep $126,420. There is also a minimum spousal share which has been increased for 2019 to $25,284. In other words, if a married couple has $50,568 or less in countable assets, the at-home spouse will be able to keep $25,284.
The Medicaid rules also allow for a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. This is the minimum amount of income that the at-home spouse is allowed. For 2018, the minimum allowance that the at-home spouse was allowed was $2057.50. Beginning January 2019, the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance remains at $2057.50.
There is also a Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. This is the amount of income that the community spouse is allowed to keep if his or her home related expenses are high enough. In 2019, the Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance for the community spouse is increased to $3160.50.
For 2019, the limit on irrevocable funeral contracts remains at $12,770. Also, the amount a person can assign for funeral expenses under a life insurance policy has not been increased for 2019 and remains at $10,770.
Finally, MDHHS will apply a penalty to any gifts made within 5 years of the filing of a Medicaid application. In 2018, the penalty divisor was $8261. For 2019, the penalty divisor is $8469. For example, supposed Betsy Smith gives a total of $10,000 to her church over a 5 year period. If she should later require nursing home care, she would be penalized from receiving Medicaid benefits for 1.18 months (10,000/8469 = 1.18).
2019 promises to be an interesting year as we wait to see if our new governor will enact any Medicaid rule changes. As always, stay tuned for further updates as they occur.