Medicaid’s Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA): Calculations & Limits

Last updated: December 08, 2022

 

Definitions

To better understand the Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), it is important to understand the terminology associated with it.

  • Community Spouse – the spouse who is not applying for long-term care Medicaid, also called the non-applicant spouse, healthy spouse, or well spouse.
  • Institutionalized Spouse – the applicant spouse, sometimes called the nursing home spouse. The term, “institutionalized”, is misleading; the CSRA isn’t only for married couples with one spouse seeking nursing home care. It is also for married couples with one spouse applying for long-term care services in their home or community via a Medicaid waiver.
  • Resources – commonly called assets. For Medicaid purposes, there are both countable (non-exempt) and non-countable (exempt) resources.

 

What is the Community Spouse Resource Allowance?

When only one spouse of a married couple applies for Medicaid long-term care, federal spousal impoverishment rules prevent the non-applicant spouse from having too little income and resources on which to live. Since Medicaid is for persons with very limited resources and income, these rules help to avoid the situation where one spouse enters a nursing home and the other spouse lives in poverty.

The Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) is one of the spousal impoverishment rules. To be Medicaid-eligible, there is an asset limit. When an applicant is married, the assets of both spouses are considered jointly owned. This means that regardless of in whose name an asset is in, it is calculated towards the asset eligibility of the applicant spouse. Generally speaking, in 2023, the applicant asset limit for a senior is $2,000. Medicaid, however, allows a greater portion of the couple’s assets to be protected for the non-applicant spouse. This is the CSRA.

A similar rule, the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), exists for income. The MMMNA allows applicant spouses to transfer a portion of their income to their non-applicant spouses.

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Minimum and Maximum Resource Allowance Amounts

While the exact amount of assets that can be retained by the non-applicant spouse as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance varies based on the state, the federal government sets a minimum and maximum “resource standard”. In 2023, the minimum CSRA is $29,724 and the maximum CSRA is $148,620. It is within these federally set standards that states are permitted to set their own standards.

Not all states use both minimum and maximum CSRA figures. Instead, some states use one standard figure. While many states choose the maximum resource standard of $148,620, other states set a lower figure. For example, South Carolina uses a standard figure of $66,480 and Illinois uses a standard figure of $109,560.

2023 Min. and Max. Community Spouse Resource Allowance Figures by State – Effective Jan. 1, 2023
Alabama $29,724 – $148,620
Alaska $148,620 – standard figure
Arizona $29,724 – $148,620
Arkansas $29,724 – $148,620
California $148,620 – standard figure
Colorado $148,620 – standard figure
Connecticut $50,000 – $148,620
Delaware $29,724 – $148,620
Florida $148,620 – standard figure
Georgia $148,620 – standard figure
Hawaii $148,620 – standard figure
Idaho $29,724 – $148,620
Illinois $109,560 – standard figure
Indiana $29,724 – $148,620
Iowa $29,724 – $148,620
Kansas $29,724 – $148,620
Kentucky $29,724 – $148,620
Louisiana $148,620 – standard figure
Maine $148,620 – standard figure
Maryland $29,724 – $148,620
Massachusetts $29,724 – $148,620
Michigan $29,724 – $148,620
Minnesota $148,620 – standard figure
Mississippi $148,620 – standard figure
Missouri $29,724 – $148,620
Montana $29,724 – $148,620
Nebraska $29,724 – $148,620
Nevada $148,620 – standard figure
New Hampshire $29,724 – $148,620
New Jersey $29,724 – $148,620
New Mexico $31,290 – $148,620
New York $74,820 – $148,620
North Carolina $29,724 – $148,620
North Dakota $29,724 – $148,620
Ohio $29,724 – $148,620
Oklahoma $29,724 – $148,620
Oregon $29,724 – $148,620
Pennsylvania $29,724 – $148,620
Rhode Island $29,724 – $148,620
South Carolina $66,480 – standard figure
South Dakota $29,724 – $148,620
Tennessee $29,724 – $148,620
Texas $29,724 – $148,620
Utah $29,724 – $148,620
Vermont $148,620 – standard figure
Virginia $29,724 – $148,620
Washington $59,890 – $148,620
Washington, DC $29,724 – $148,620
West Virginia $29,724 – $148,620
Wisconsin $50,000 – $148,620
Wyoming 148,620 – standard figure

 

Which Resources are Countable?

Not all of a couple’s assets / resources are counted when calculating the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. There are Countable (Non-Exempt) assets and Non-Countable (Exempt) assets.

Countable (Non-Exempt) Assets
Countable assets are generally considered liquid assets, which are assets that can easily be converted to cash and used to pay for long-term care. Examples include cash, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, and vacation properties.

Non-Countable (Exempt) Assets
Several assets are considered exempt and are not factored in when adding up a couple’s assets to calculate the CSRA. These include the couple’s primary home, given the non-applicant spouse lives in it, household furniture and appliances, clothing, an automobile, irrevocable (it cannot be changed or cancelled) funeral and burial trusts, and life insurance policies with a total face value under a certain amount (generally $1,500).

 In some states, IRAs and 401ks are exempt assets, while in other states, they are non-exempt. Learn more

 

How to Calculate the Community Spouse Resource Allowance?

All countable assets of a couple, regardless of which spouse legally owns an asset, are determined on a “snapshot date”. This is generally the applicant’s first day of institutionalization (with a minimum of a 30-day stay) or the date they qualify for a Medicaid waiver. The total value of the couple’s non-exempt assets are added together on this date and the CSRA is determined. The way this is calculated is based on if a state is a 50% or a 100% state. In Medicaid speak, a 50% state may be called a one-half deduction state, and a 100% state, a straight deduction state.

50% States
In 50% states, a community spouse can keep half of the couple’s countable assets, up to their state’s maximum resource standard. In these states, the applicant spouse and the non-applicant spouse each are considered to own 50% of the couple’s assets. If the community spouse’s 50% is under the maximum resource standard, which in most states is $148,620, this is often the amount of their CSRA. However, these states also use a minimum resource standard to protect couples who have very limited resources. This figure is usually $29,724 and is the minimum amount of assets to which a non-applicant is entitled. If the non-applicant’s 50% of assets is under $29,724, they can retain 100% of the couple’s assets, up to $29,724.

Examples:
A couple has $150,000 in countable assets. The CSRA is $75,000 ($150,000 ÷ 2 = $75,000) because it is higher than the minimum resource standard of $29,724 and is under the maximum resource standard of $148,620. The applicant’s assets are also $75,000. Since the applicant spouse is limited to $2,000 in assets, $73,000 is assets must be “spent down” for the applicant to become asset eligible.

A couple has $25,000 in countable assets. The CSRA is $25,000 because it falls under the minimum resource standard of $29,724.

100% States
In 100% states, one standard figure is used in calculating the CSRA. In most states, this figure is $148,620. In these states, a non-applicant spouse can retain 100% of the couple’s countable assets up to the cap of $148,620.

Examples:
A couple has $155,000 in countable assets. The CSRA is $148,620. The applicant’s asset limit is $2,000. This means that $4,380 must be “spent down” for the applicant spouse to become asset-eligible. ($155,000 – $148,620 = $6,380 – $2,000 = $4,380).

A couple has $72,000 in countable assets. The CSRA is $72,000.

 Again, it is worth noting that, in most cases, primary homes are exempt from being counted towards the asset limit provided they are lived in by one of the spouses.

 

Medicaid 50% and 100% States for CSRA – Updated Dec. 2022
50% States 100% States
Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
Connecticut
Delaware
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Washington
Washington, DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Alaska
California
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Illinois
Louisiana
Maine
Minnesota
Mississippi
South Carolina
Vermont
Wyoming

Asset Spend Down

If the applicant’s portion of the couple’s assets is over the state’s asset limit and/or the non-applicant’s portion is over the maximum CSRA, the couple must “spend down” their countable assets to meet the asset limit. This is often done by converting countable assets into non-countable assets. Examples include making home improvements and modifications (updating heating and plumbing systems, adding a first floor bedroom, installing a chair lift), paying off debt (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills), and prepaying funeral and burial expenses. One can also turn countable assets into an income stream via a Medicaid compliant annuity.

 Use our Medicaid Spend Down Calculator to determine your spend down amount.

 

Seek the Advice of a Professional Medicaid Planner

Medicaid eligibility can be complicated, particularly if one is over the asset limit. When spending down assets, one needs to be cautious. Giving away assets or selling them under fair market value can violate Medicaid’s look back period and result in a penalty period of Medicaid ineligibility. If one is over the asset limit, it is highly advised one contact a professional Medicaid planner for assistance.

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