The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the 2013 federal guidelines for how much money the spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients may keep and the limit on how much a home can be worth for its owner to still qualify for Medicaid.

In 2013, the spouse of a Medicaid recipient living in a nursing home (called the "community spouse") may keep as much as $115,920 without jeopardizing the Medicaid eligibility of the spouse who is receiving long-term care.

Called the "community spouse resource allowance," this is the most that a state may allow a community spouse to retain without a hearing or a court order. The least that a state may allow a community spouse to retain in 2013 will be $23,184.

Meanwhile, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance for 2013 will be $2,898.

This is the most in monthly income that a community spouse is allowed to have if her own income is not enough to live on and she must take some or all of the institutionalized spouse's income.

The minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance – the income level below which a state may not allow a community spouse to fall -- is $1,891.25 in the lower 48 states ($2,365 for Alaska and $2,176.25 for Hawaii). This figure took effect July 1, 2012, and will not rise until July 1, 2013.

In determining how much income a particular community spouse is allowed to retain, states must abide by this upper and lower range. Bear in mind that these figures apply only if the community spouse needs to take income from the institutionalized spouse. According to Medicaid law, the community spouse may keep all her own income, even if it exceeds the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance. These new figures (except for the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance) took effect on January 1, 2013.

Editor’s Note: Melanie B. Bradford is an attorney located in Scottsboro, Alabama at 803 Garland Ferry Road at the intersection of Veterans Drive and Garland Ferry near The Daily Sentinel. Her phone number is 256-259-3301. The Alabama State Bar requires any communication that may be interpreted as an ad to state: “No representation is made about the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

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