The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its Spousal Impoverishment Standards for 2018.

The official spousal impoverishment allowances for 2018 are as follows:

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

The “community spouse resource allowance” is a protection provided under Medicaid law for the healthy spouse of an applicant for benefits (called the “community spouse”) to insure the healthy spouse has the minimum support needed to continue to live in the community while the ill spouse is receiving long-term care, usually in a nursing home.

In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in assets. However, the community spouse may keep one-half of the couple’s total “countable” assets to prevent the community spouse from becoming impoverished, subject to a minimum and maximum amount, called the “community spouse resource allowance.”

2018 Minimum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $24,720

2018 Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $123,600

Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

The “monthly maintenance needs allowance” is another protection for the healthy spouse provided under Medicaid law. Although Medicaid law mandates that all of the income of the ill spouse receiving benefits be used to pay for care, in some situations 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? This figure, known as the monthly maintenance needs allowance, is calculated for each community spouse according to a complicated formula based on his or her housing costs. Under the regulations, there is a minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance, also called the MMMNA, and a maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance. If the community spouse’s own income falls below the MMMNA, the shortfall is made up from the nursing home spouse’s income.

Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) until July 1, 2018 for all States except Alaska and Hawaii: $2,030 ($2,536.25 for Alaska and $2,333.75 for Hawaii)

Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance: $3,090

Home Equity Limits

In addition to the community spouse resource allowance, the community spouse is also permitted to retain “non-countable” assets. There are very few assets which are non-countable. One such non-countable asset is the applicant’s principal residence. Under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), principal residences may be deemed non-countable only to the extent their equity is less than $552,000, with the states having the option of raising this limit to $828,000 (in 2016). In all states and under the DRA, the house may be kept with no equity limit if the Medicaid applicant’s spouse or another dependent relative lives there.

Minimum: $572,000

Maximum: $858,000

For CMS’s complete chart of the 2018 SSI and Spousal Impoverishment Standards, see below:

Download (PDF, 21KB)

For additional information concerning New Jersey elder law, visit:

NJ Elder Law and Estate Planning Services

For additional information concerning Medicaid and public benefits planning, visit:

NJ Medicaid and Public Benefits Planning