Will the Stimulus Check Impact my Medical Assistance?

April 16, 2020

As the IRS begins to send out payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, recipients of Medical Assistance for long-term care (i.e., Medicaid or Family Care) are wondering how this payment may affect their benefits. In other words, will the payment be considered either income or an asset that causes issues with qualifying for Medical Assistance?

If the payment is considered income, there would be little or no impact on Medical Assistance benefits because the basic Medical Assistance rule is income, minus certain deductions, must be paid to the nursing home (called patient responsibility). Therefore, the stimulus payment may impact patient responsibility, increasing the amount the nursing home would receive that month, but Medical Assistance benefits would remain intact.

However, if the payment is considered an asset, Medical Assistance benefits could be impacted if the payment causes the recipient to exceed $2,000 in assets.

So, is the payment an asset?

Unfortunately, there is no current guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on how the payments will be classified. However, the commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (SSA) has clarified how the SSA will consider stimulus payments for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) recipients. Because Wisconsin follows the SSI rules to administer its Medicaid program, and Wisconsin’s requirements cannot be stricter than the SSA requirements, we can rely on the SSA’s clarification to determine how the payment will be classified.

The SSA will not view the payments as income. This means that a medical assistance recipient will not have his or her cost share adjusted because of the payment. The SSA will view the payments as an asset. However, the payments will be excluded for 12 months, meaning the payment will not be counted towards Medical Assistance recipient’s $2,000 in assets. However, after the 12 months is over, any money remaining would then be counted as an asset. This provides an opportunity to consult with Ruder Ware’s Elder Law Team to discuss options to keep Medical Assistance in place at the end of the 12-month grace period.

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