The coronavirus relief bill includes a direct payment to most Americans, which may have Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Medicaid recipients wondering how the payment will affect their continuing eligibility for these crucial benefits. Because the payment is not income, it should not count against an SSI or Medicaid recipient’s eligibility.

As detailed in prior blog posts by our firm, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to individuals earning less than $75,000 per year ($150,000 for couples who file jointly), including Social Security beneficiaries. Individuals earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) will receive smaller stimulus checks. Payments are based on either 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Those with minor children are eligible for an additional $500 payment per child.

The basic Medicaid rule for nursing home residents is that they must pay all of their income, minus certain deductions, to the nursing home. If the stimulus payment were considered income, it would likely have to go straight to the nursing home. There was also concern that the stimulus payments could put many recipients over the asset limit.  Similarly, Community Medicaid and SSI recipients are limited in the income that they can receive per month and the assets they can have in their name.

In a blog post, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has clarified that the SSA will not consider stimulus payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments will be excluded from resources for 12 months. Because state Medicaid programs cannot impose eligibility requirements that are stricter than SSI requirements set by the SSA, the payments should not affect Medicaid eligibility.  The payments should not be considered income in the month received and should not be considered a resource for 12 months after the payment is received.

If you have questions about the impacts of your stimulus payment on SSI and Medicaid, one of our attorneys can assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact the Wladis Law Firm. We will do our best to provide you with updates and will be available to answer questions as circumstances change. We may be reached at (315) 445-1700 or by reaching out to your everyday firm contacts.