Can a nursing home take my stimulus check? This is a question many seniors and their loved ones have been asking since the first round of stimulus payments.
In December 2020, Congress approved a second round of stimulus checks for individuals making less than $75,000 a year. These checks are being sent to everyone who is eligible. This includes individuals on Medicaid and those living in nursing homes and senior living facilities. However, there are continuing reports that nursing homes and other senior living facilities are taking their residents’ stimulus checks without their permission.
Does a Nursing Home Have a Right to My Stimulus Check?
As the second round of stimulus checks are delivered, many are still wondering, can a nursing home take my stimulus check? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants residents of senior living facilities to know that stimulus checks are for their personal use. Residents of nursing homes are not required to turn their stimulus checks over to their senior living facility. Nor can a senior living facility take a stimulus check without their resident’s knowledge. In fact, these senior living facilities have no right to their residents’ stimulus checks at all.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes are inaccurately claiming that they are entitled to a resident’s stimulus check when that resident is on Medicaid. Not so. According to the CARES Act, the stimulus payment is a tax credit. Tax law states that tax credits do not count as “resources” when determining eligibility for Medicaid. Therefore, nursing homes and assisted living facilities cannot take their residents’ stimulus payments under any circumstances. This includes taking stimulus checks from residents on Medicaid.
What Should I Do if a Nursing Home Has Taken My Stimulus Check?
If your loved one lives in a nursing facility and you’re not sure if they received their stimulus check, talk with them as soon as possible. If you do know if they received their stimulus payment, you may need to ask the facility’s management for their “policy” regarding stimulus checks. If you suspect that their policy is unlawful, contact your state attorney general’s office and then file a complaint with the FTC. It is advised that you not make any accusations that could impact the level of care your loved one receives. Simply take the information and report it to the proper authorities.
How Does a Stimulus Payment Affect My Medicaid Eligibilty?
There are some things you need to be aware of regarding stimulus checks and your Medicaid eligibility.
The Social Security Administration does not count economic stimulus payments as income. Additionally, stimulus payments are excluded from a Medicaid recipient’s eligibility resources for 12 months from the date of their stimulus check. Therefore, if a senior’s stimulus payment puts them above Medicaid’s resource limit, their stimulus money needs to be spent down within a year. Otherwise, they may risk losing their Medicaid benefits.
What Can I Spend Stimulus Money on When on Medicaid?
The following are examples of what a Medicaid recipient may be able to spend the stimulus payments on without affecting their eligibility:
- Payment on debt
- Rent or mortgage payment
- Making small repairs around the house
- Buying household goods and personal comfort objects, such as clothing, electronics, and furniture
- Purchasing needed medical equipment, seeing a dentist or eye doctor when those services are not covered by insurance
Learn more about how you can spend your stimulus if you live in a nursing home. If you have questions about how you or a family member in a nursing home can spend their stimulus checks, contact the estate planning and elder law attorneys at Elville and Associates. The attorneys at Elville and Associates are well-versed in helping clients and their families plan for a variety of situations, be they crisis or pre-crisis situations. Contact Community Relations Director Jeff Stauffer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 443-937-3845 x117 as a first step in setting an appointment with one of our attorneys today.