Can Your Stimulus Check Throw Off Your Eligibility for Medicaid?
As almost everyone knows by now, the federal government is in the process of sending out payments to every American. Single people are receiving $1,200 and married couples are receiving $2,400. This is great news for everyone, but especially those who are struggling to find work in the pandemic-stricken economy.
But the stimulus payments have also raised a troubling question for those who are dependent on Supplemental Security Income, as well as those who are dependent on Medicaid to pay for long-term care costs. Those who are dependent on these programs are aware that you can only qualify for SSI and Medicaid as long as you remain below a strict resource limit. For those who are in long-term care, and who are unmarried, that resource limit is $2,000. Several types of assets count as resources, including your bank account. Thus, if your bank account balance is over $2,000 on the first of the month, you will be considered "over-resourced" for purposes of qualifying for SSI and/or long-term care via Medicaid.
So what happens, say, if you have $1,500 in your bank account, and - out of the blue - the federal government suddenly deposits another $1,200 into it? If that balance remains at $2,700 after the first of the month, will you get kicked out of the program?
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has answered that question. On April 15, 2020, just as the stimulus payments were beginning to make their way to Americans, the Social Security Administration issued a press release indicating that the stimulus payments are going to be "excluded" as resources for a period of twelve months. Furthermore, because the states are prohibited from being less restrictive than SSI in implementing their individual Medicaid programs, this also means that those who are receiving Medicaid benefits as long-term care will also not be placed in an immediate position where they have to do something with the stimulus funds.
Having said that, it is probably not a good idea to wait very long before you find some way to spend down the funds that were paid as a part of the stimulus package. And you want to be certain that you have limited your resources to $2,000 before April 15, 2021.
There are several ways you can spend the money that can be helpful to you, while also preserving your ability to qualify for SSI or Medicaid. For those who rely on Medicaid benefits, home improvements, common household items, and pre-paid, nonrefundable funeral and burial plans can be purchased, among other things.
If you have questions about how you can go about spending your stimulus payment in a way that will not affect your eligibility for SSI or Medicaid, consult with a qualified attorney in your area.