Every so often, the government increases benefits to account for cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). As scheduled, on July 1, 2016, the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Allowance (MMMNA) was increased to $2002.50, effective July 1, 2016 and continuing through June 30, 2017. What is the MMMNA? Essentially, it is the amount of income that the community spouse (the spouse living at home) is able to keep, even if that means keeping some (or all) of the nursing home spouse’s income. More specifically, if the applicant for long-term nursing home Medicaid (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is married, the community spouse is allowed to keep all of his or her own income. Additionally, if the community spouse’s income is lower than the MMMNA, then the community spouse is allowed to keep so much of the nursing home spouse’s income as to equal the difference between the MMMNA and the community spouse’s income. This MMMNA amount has been increased to $2,002.50 from $1,991.25 earlier this year. An example: John, the nursing home spouse, receives MassHealth and has income of $2,000/month. The community spouse (living at home) has income of only $500/month. His wife, Jane, the community spouse (living at home), has income of only $500/month. Using the MMMNA, Jane, the spouse at home, gets to keep so much of John’s income as to bring herself to $2,002.50. So, Jane gets to keep the $500 she always had, plus $1,502.50 of the nursing home spouses income, for a total of $2,002.50 per month. As this is the minimum amount, it is possible, if certain basic household expenses are more than 30% of the MMMNA (or $600.75), then the community spouse is entitled to keep even more of the couple's income. This extra income is known as the Excess Shelter Amount ("ESA"). Between the MMMNA and the ESA, the community spouse can now keep as much as $2,980.50 of the couple's total income. Additionally, if even more income is needed by the community spouse, such as in a situation where she is living in an assisted living facility, then the community spouse can request a fair hearing and attempt to prove the need for more than $2,980.50 of the married couple’s total income. What does this mean for your loved one? This increase in the MMMNA means that the community spouse will possibly be able to keep even more of his or her spouse’s income to pay for expenses to help keep her at home. The thought behind this minimum income amount is that the government does not want to impoverish the spouse at home in an effort to get the sickly spouse on nursing home Medicaid benefits. Do you know a loved one who is applying for Medicaid / MassHealth? This increased MMMNA can help to make the community spouse live more comfortably. If you have questions about nursing home Medicaid and the eligibility of a loved one, call our office at 888-998-3212 and schedule a no obligation consultation to guide you through the application process. © Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street, Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton, MA 02375. This article is for illustration purposes only. This handout does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article. DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.