Medicaid Marriage Risk for Seniors


Medical Assistance – Marriage Risk for Seniors

Another evolving difficulty with blindly following the marriage “tradition” is the impact of “Medical Assistance” in Minnesota, known nationally as “Medicaid.” Although many seniors may insist on marriage before residing with a significant other, it may not be in their best interests if one of them, having limited means, must be placed in a skilled nursing care environment. If such an “institutionalized” spouse does not have sufficient funds for his care, most of his spouse’s assets, except for her reasonably valued residence and a relatively small amount of other assets, must be exhausted before the institutionalized spouse can receive Medical Assistance for his care. This exhausting of most assets, known as a “spend down”, can be disastrous for the future of the “community spouse” able to live without any skilled nursing care. This “spend down” requirement does not yet apply to individuals who are not married.


Rules and spend down requirements for Medical Assistance in Minnesota are constantly changing. In addition, there may be economic reasons, including retirement account eligibility, that favor seniors marrying regardless of the possibility of a spend down with an institutionalized spouse. Due to this ever changing landscape and the possibility of other benefits dependent upon marriage, before seniors marry, the assets, retirement rights and other possible income and benefits each spouse owns or is entitled to should be analyzed by both a financial planner and an Elder Law attorney having significant current knowledge in Minnesota Medical Assistance laws and regulations, Medicaid rules and applicable provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The result of such expert analyses will hopefully be an informed decision by the seniors on whether or not they should marry.

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Copyright 2014, Lee Watson.

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