Medicaid Eligibility: Spouse’s Income and Benefits

Medicaid Planning by Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney

Each year we update the Ohio Medicaid limits when they're released. For a print version click here "2023 Ohio Medicaid Guide"  Find our other guides for estate planning, long term care planning and special needs planning on our page - Helpful Guides: Long-Term Care, Medicaid, Special Needs Planning.

Protection for Spouse of Medicaid Applicant

Although Medicaid limits the assets that the spouse of a Medicaid applicant can retain, the income of the healthy or “community spouse” is not counted in determining the Medicaid applicant’s eligibility. Only income in the applicant’s name is counted. Thus, even if the community spouse is still working and earning, say, $5,000 a month, she will not have to contribute to the cost of caring for her spouse in a nursing home if he is covered by Medicaid.

What if My Spouse is on Medicaid and My Household Income Is Not Enough?

But what if most of the couple's income is in the name of the institutionalized spouse and the community spouse's income is not enough to live on? In such cases, the community spouse is entitled to some or all of the monthly income of the institutionalized spouse. How much the community spouse is entitled to depends on what the federal government determines to be a minimum income level for the community spouse. This figure, known as the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance or MMMNA, is calculated for each community spouse according to a complicated formula based on his or her housing costs. The MMMNA may range from a low of $2,288.75 to a high of $3,715.50 a month (in 2023). If the community spouse's own income falls below his or her MMMNA, the shortfall is made up from the nursing home spouse's income.

Example: Joe and Sally Smith have a joint income of $3,000 a month, $2,300 of which is in Mr. Smith's name and $700 is in Mrs. Smith's name. Mr. Smith enters a nursing home and applies for Medicaid. The Medicaid agency determines that Mrs. Smith's MMMNA is $2,300 (based on her housing costs). Since Mrs. Smith's own income is only $700 a month, the Medicaid agency allocates $1,600 of Mr. Smith's income to her support. Since Mr. Smith also may keep a $50-a-month personal needs allowance, his obligation to pay the nursing home is only $650 a month ($2,300 - $1,600 - $50 = $650).

In exceptional circumstances, community spouses may seek an increase in their MMMNAs either by appealing to the state Medicaid agency or by obtaining a court order of spousal support.  Your elder law attorney, Joseph L. Motta, can explain these options to you.

Best Medicaid Planning Attorney Cleveland Area


Many people fail to realize that neither their health insurance nor Medicare will cover long-term care. As a result, many middle-class seniors fail to plan for long-term care and can spend their entire life savings before becoming impoverished and turning to Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint program of the federal and state governments that will pay the long-term care costs of those who have little or no assets. The rules governing Medicaid in Ohio are extremely complex and have undergone substantial changes in the last few years which is why we create a Medicaid Guide each year with some basic Medicaid eligibility updates.  If you have questions about Medicaid eligibility, income, savings, assets and more, please contact the offices of Joseph L. Motta for a free consultation.

Free Initial Consultation for Medicaid Planning

The Medicaid information on our website is intended to provide you with a general introduction to Ohio’s Medicaid program. Please be aware that there are numerous details that cannot be covered in such a brief summary, and many aspects that are regularly evolving. Our goal is to educate you concerning Medicaid’s financial restrictions, and help you appreciate the importance of proper planning but please consult with us to ensure you're using the most relevant and up-to-date Medicaid eligibility requirements and other details. Joseph L. Motta Co., LPA has helped many individuals qualify for Medicaid without losing their life savings. We want to provide you with the knowledge necessary to protect your family.

Our local office is located at:

32730 Walker Road,
Suite J-1, Avon Lake, Ohio 44012.

If you would like to learn more about how we may be able to help you, please call us at 440-930-2826 or fill out our contact us form.