Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is a Minimum Monthly Needs Allowance (MMMNA)?

When a spouse needs long term skilled nursing care and is covered by medicaid, the income of the community spouse (i.e. the spouse who does not require skilled nursing care and continues to live in the broader "community") will continue undisturbed; he or she will not have to use his or her income to support the nursing home spouse receiving Medicaid benefits. But what if most of the couple's income is in the name of the institutionalized spouse, and the community spouse's income is not enough to live on? In such cases, the community spouse is entitled to some or all of the monthly income of the institutionalized spouse. How much the community spouse is entitled to depends on what the Medicaid agency determines to be a minimum income level for the community spouse. This figure, known as the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance or MMMNA, is calculated for each community spouse according to a complicated formula based on his or her housing costs. The MMMNA may range from a low of $1,838.75 to a high of $2,841 a month (in 2012). If the community spouse's own income falls below his or her MMMNA, the shortfall is made up from the nursing home spouse's income.
Example: Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a joint income of $3,000 a month, $1,700 of which is in Mr. Smith's name and $700 is in Mrs. Smith's name. Mr. Smith enters a nursing home and applies for Medicaid. The Medicaid agency determines that Mrs. Smith's MMMNA is $2,000 (based on her housing costs). Since Mrs. Smith's own income is only $700 a month, the Medicaid agency allocates $1,300 of Mr. Smith's income to her support. Since Mr. Smith also may keep a $60 a month personal needs allowance, his obligation to pay the nursing home is only $340 a month ($1,700 - $1,300 - $60 = $340).
In exceptional circumstances, community spouses may seek an increase in their MMMNAs either by appealing to the state Medicaid agency or by obtaining a court order of spousal support.

If you need assistance with Medicaid Planning, Estate Planning or other elder law matters call the offices of Fabisch Law, L.L.C. to set up a consultation with Rhode Island Elder Law Attorney Matthew Fabisch at 401-324-9344.