If you are on Medicaid and you get remarried, does the new income and assets impact your eligibility?
Yes, if you are on Medicaid and get remarried, your new spouse’s income and assets could impact your eligibility. This is because Medicaid’s financial eligibility criteria is different for single seniors versus those who are married
That said, it is important to differentiate between the regular state Medicaid program for seniors, often called Aged, Blind and Disabled Medicaid, and Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waivers, as these two programs calculate the income and assets of married seniors differently. Please note that for the sake of answering this question, we are assuming the new spouse is not a Medicaid recipient and the spouse receiving Medicaid is not in a nursing home.
For Aged, Blind and Disabled Medicaid, the income and assets of a married couple are calculated together. Stated differently, the income and assets of a new spouse will be used in redetermining the eligibility of the spouse on Medicaid. Generally a state uses 100% of the Federal Poverty Level or 100% of the Federal Benefit Rate for a household of two as the income limit. As of 2019, this means the income limit for a married couple might be $1,157 / month (FBR for a household of 2) or $1,409 / month (FPL for a household of 2). The asset limit for a married couple is usually limited to $3,000.
These potential income limits for a married couple are approximately $360 less than the income limit for a single senior, and the asset limit is just $1,000 more than for a single senior. Therefore, even if one’s new spouse has limited income and assets, it can cause a Medicaid recipient to lose his / her Medicaid eligibility.
As mentioned above, for HCBS Medicaid Waivers, the income and assets of a married couple are calculated differently than they are for Aged, Blind and Disabled Medicaid. The income of a non-applicant spouse is not counted towards the applicant spouse’s Medicaid eligibility. Put differently, it doesn’t matter how much income the non-applicant spouse makes, as it will not cause the Medicaid recipient spouse to lose his / her Medicaid eligibility.
Assets, on the other hand, are considered jointly owned. However, there is a special resource allowance, which allows the non-applicant spouse to retain a higher amount of the couple’s assets. This is called a community spouse resource allowance, and in most states, allows the non-applicant spouse to keep up to $126,420 (in 2019) in assets. What this means is, if the new spouse has assets under the above figure, they likely will not impact the Medicaid eligibility of the spouse who is receiving benefits via a HCBS Medicaid waiver.
Learn more about how Medicaid counts income.