Having a spouse living in a nursing home or facility can be very costly. According to SeniorHomes.com, the average cost of Nursing Homes in California is $245 daily. It may even cost more if an individual has a private room compared to a semi-private room, other additional fees, and the area in which the nursing home or facility is located.

Older adults who have saved up for years would be exhausting majority of their life time savings to have their spouses taken care of in a nursing home. To avoid this, in 1988, Congress enacted certain arrangements to prevent what is known as spousal impoverishment(Section 1924 of the Social Security Act; U.S. Code Reference 42 U.S.C. 1396r-5). By preventing spousal impoverishment, the spouse who is not in a nursing home or facility or is still residing at home or “in the community” will still have sufficient income and resources while his/her partner is in a nursing home. By enacting such provisions, it ensures that spouses who live “in the community” are able to live without worry about depleting savings or other resources.

The provisions of spousal impoverishment only apply when one partner enters a nursing home or facility and has to stay for at least thirty (30) days. Medicaid spousal impoverishment provisions allow a specific amount of the couple’s joint resources to remain secure for the partner who is living in the community. However, for 2016 there is a minimum and a maximum quantity that can be secured for the partner who is not living in a nursing home or facility. Keep in mind that the minimum and maximum quantity does vary by state. 

For more information about spousal impoverishment and its standards Medicaid.Gov provides a great resource that illustrates the 2020 Spousal Impoverishment Standard. In addition, the Social Security Administration offers additional information regarding Treatment of Income and Resources for Certain Institutionalized Spouses.