What Is the Excess Shelter Allowance When Filing a MassHealth Application in 2015-2016?

by: Brian E. Barreira, Esq.

When applying for MassHealth, the at-home spouse, known as the community spouse, is allowed to keep all of the community spouse’s own income, no matter how much that amount may be.  If the community spouse’s own income is below $1,991.25, however, the community spouse is allowed to divert income from the institutionalized spouse to get up to the $1,991.25 requirement of the current law.  (Note:  the $1,991.25 minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance —MMMNA— will likely increase on July 1, 2016.)

The $1,991.25 in income currently allowed for the community spouse can be increased beyond that figure if the community spouse’s housing expenses are high.  That increase is known as the Excess Shelter Allowance.   If the community spouse’s housing expenses are more than 30% of the MMMNA, (i.e., 30% of $1991.25, which comes to $597.38), then the additional income needed is referred to as the Excess Shelter Allowance, and ends up being an additional income allowance for the community spouse.

For some spouses, the increased income allowance can mean an increase in the community spouse resource allowance, which is the total amount of assets that the at-home spouse is allowed to keep.

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