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  • Amber Hinds

Medicaid Planning for Married Couples: What is the Monthly Maintenance (MMNA) Needs Allowance?


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 income to live on.


The Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMNA) is one of the spousal impoverishment rules currently in place. The MMNA is an income allowance that allows a married applicant to transfer a portion, or all, of his/her income to the non-applicant spouse who earns little to no income. This rule is in place to ensure the non-applicant spouse is left with sufficient income. The community spouse’s income must fall under a certain level in order for the applicant spouse, also called the institutionalized spouse, to transfer funds to his/her spouse.


Some states apply a minimum and maximum amount: $2,114 - $3,161 while some states apply one standard amount.


How Does the MMNA Work? Example Below.


Roger and Nancy are married. Roger recently entered a nursing home. Roger has income of $2,500. Nancy’s income is $1,161. Their state rules say Nancy is entitled to the maximum MMNA ($3,161). Nancy is short $2,000.


The state will “divert/shift” $2,000 of Roger’s income to Nancy which leaves $500 of Roger’s income to be paid to the nursing home.


If Roger and Nancy lived in a state which only allows the minimum ($2,114), then Nancy would only be entitled to $953 of Roger’s income. If Nancy can show excess shelter expenses (a mortgage, utility bills, etc.) she may then receive more of Roger’s income up to $3,161.

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