A Spend Down:
What is a Spend Down?
For an individual receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid, a “Spend Down” literally refers to spending excess money that he/she receives within a calendar month to maintain eligibility for public benefits. This is allowable because SSI determines a lump sum of money to be considered income only in the month received if it is spent within that same calendar month (SI 01110.600). In most states, that means that on the last day of the same calendar month that the funds were received the recipient can have not a penny more than the resource limit, which is generally $2,000 for an unmarried individual and $3,000 for a married couple. For example, if John Doe, an unmarried individual, is on SSI and receives $28,000 dollars on September 12th, he must spend down his total resources to $2,000 dollars before October 1st.
What Can a Recipient Spend Their Funds On?
This article will explore and identify challenges faced when working with elder abuse cases. One ongoing issue for all serious injury case is protecting government benefit eligibility. Many injured parties become uninsurable and counsel must protect the potential or future need for MediCal. This issue is more common and challenging with Elder abuse case settlements due to the increased number of potential clients who utilize or qualify for MediCal and\or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Any client who is or has become totally and permanently disabled based on the Social Security Administration definition[i] may be eligible for MediCal or SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Any settlement funds from the case will be countable as income or as a resource therefore jeopardizing government benefit eligibility. This may result in reduction in or loss of SSI and\or MediCal eligibility.
William E. Lindahl, MBA, CLPF