Shortly after celebrating 50 years of marriage to Mary, James Smith suffered a stroke and has been hospitalized ever since. The hospital discharge planner informed Mary that James now requires around-the-clock care and should not return home. Care in a skilled nursing facility exceeds $7,000 per month, for which Medicare will not provide coverage. Upon reviewing the couple’s assets, Mary found $100,000, plus the family home, divided as follows:
- Savings account: $8,000
- CD: $45,000
- Money Market: $35,000
- Checking Account: $12,000
- Home (no mortgage): $110,000
Regarding income, Mr. Smith receives $600 per month from Social Security, along with a small pension of $300 per month. Mrs. Smith receives a Social Security check each month in the amount of $300.
Mrs. Smith spoke with her children and determined that the family cannot afford $7,000 per month. If the Smiths used their savings to pay for James’ care, Mary would run out of money within two years and lose the ability to support herself. Further, the Smiths do not have enough income to cover James monthly expenses.
There is good news for the Smiths.
Although the Smiths probably cannot resolve their dilemma at the ALTCS eligibility worker level, a trained professional might very well help them. With the guidance of an Elder Law attorney, James might qualify for the ALTCS benefit; and Mary, in addition to keeping all of her personal income, might be able to keep most of the couple’s assets for her support.
The exact amount can vary, but ALTCS allows well spouses, such as Mrs. Smith, to keep income of up to $3,090* per month for monthly maintenance needs. Further, Mrs. Smith could keep at least half of the couple’s resources under the CSRD; with planning, possibly even more than half, plus the family home. Of course, the Smiths must proceed carefully, in order for Mary to keep all of the resources the law allows.