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What Do We Do With the Stimulus Check for a Parent on Medicaid?

Impact of COVID-19 Stimulus Check on Property Tax and Rent Rebates for Pennsylvania’s Older Adults and Residents With Disabilities on Medicaid

For most of us, the prospect of $600 (or perhaps even $2,000) appearing in our bank account is a welcome gift. However, if our loved one is on Medicaid it can fill us with concern. How can this money be used? Will it result in our parent losing benefits? Should I just give the money to the nursing home? With the first stimulus, there were some open questions regarding how this money can be used but we have a much clearer picture this time around. First, facilities have no right to this money. It is not considered income for public benefit purposes and will not be treated as a resource if it is spent within one year of receipt. So here are five ideas for how to use the stimulus check received by your loved one on Medicaid.

1) Replenish their savings up to the resource limit.

Most of us have been economically challenged by this pandemic and that includes Medicaid recipients. Therefore, the best use of the money may be to bring their accounts back up to the applicable resource limit, generally $2,000 for individuals on Medicaid. As noted above, the stimulus check is not counted as a resource for twelve months, but at the end of that period, you will need to make sure that the account is again safely below the resource limit.

2) Purchase items or services they will need or want in the future.

When a family member is in a facility and their income must be paid to that facility every month, we often end up purchasing the little comforts and necessities that improve their life. Clothes, toiletries, and snacks all add up, especially when we are under our own economic stress. You might also take this opportunity to apply the funds towards noncovered services like dental implants, contact lenses, or higher quality medical supplies.

3) Invest in professional advice.

Consider seeking professional assistance you may have previously forgone due to budgetary limitations. Whether it’s getting estate planning documents updated or seeking the advocacy of a geriatric care manager about a care issue, spending a little money now may save you a lot of aggravation and money in the future.

4) Boost (or create) their prepaid funeral account.

Designating funds for funeral expenses is often done at the time of spend down to Medicaid, but it is not uncommon to find that not all expenses are covered. Therefore, if your loved one does not need anything now, it may make sense to add to their prepaid burial account to ensure you don’t end up with a big bill later.

5) Gifting is allowable.

Many clients feel a loss of dignity when they can no longer give their grandchild a graduation or wedding gift due to Medicaid concerns. Others, who tithed their entire lives, are saddened by their inability to do so. State and federal agencies have now made it clear that it is allowable to make gifts from the stimulus check received by Medicaid recipients.

If you have any questions about this post or any other elder care and special needs law matters, please email me at ssiegel@norris-law.com. For other topics related to the coronavirus, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.

The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel.