Medicaid Planning for Married Couples: What is the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA)?
For married couples, when one spouse is applying for benefits, there are spousal impoverishment rules in place to prevent the non-applicant spouse, often called the community spouse or well spouse, from having too little resources to live on.
The Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) is one of the spousal impoverishment rules currently in place. The CSRA is the amount of assets the non-applicant spouse is entitled to keep. There is a minimum resource standard and a maximum resource standard. As of 2019, the minimum resource standard is $25,284 and the maximum resource standard is $126,420. These standards are set by the federal government, but states are permitted to set their own standards within those parameters.
It is important to note that not all resources are counted (home, car, personal property, etc), which means they are exempt and are not calculated and included in the resource allowance.
When determining the CSRA, some states allow the community spouse to keep a maximum amount of resources, typically around $126,420. Other states determine the CSRA amount by adding up all of the countable resources as of the snap-shot date/first day of continuous institutionalization and divide the assets by two, while staying within the minimum and maximum amounts.
Calculating the CSRA. Examples Below.
Roger and Nancy are married. Roger has the following asset in his name: brokerage account worth $50,000. Nancy has the following assets in her name: savings account with $25,000, certificate of deposit worth $50,000. Together, they have the following assets (jointly owns): checking account with $25,000, investment account with $75,000.
Together, the couple’s total countable resources equal $225,000.
First, Let’s Calculate the CSRA in a State where the Maximum CSRA is allowed.
Using Roger and Nancy’s assets, let’s calculate the CSRA in a state where the maximum CSRA is allowed. The current (2019) Maximum CSRA is $126,420.
How much can Roger and Nancy keep of their assets?
Community Spouse (CS) is allowed to keep $126,420; Institutionalized spouse (IS) is allowed to keep $2,000. They have excess resources of $96,580.
Next, Let’s Calculate the CSRA in a State where there is a Minimum and Maximum CSRA allowed.
What if Roger and Nancy lived in a state where the total assets were divided in half to determine the CSRA?
Recall the 2019 CSRA figures: Minimum $25,284 and Maximum is $126,420
Take their total assets ($225,000) and divide by 2 = $112,500.
The CSRA becomes $112,500 and the CS must spend down $110,500 before the IS can qualify for Medicaid. The IS is entitled to $2,000 in resources as well.