The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to individuals earning less than $75,000 per year ($150,000 for couples who file jointly), including Social Security beneficiaries. Individuals earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) will receive smaller stimulus checks. Payments are based on either 2018 or 2019 tax returns.
The basic MassHealth rule for nursing home residents is that they must pay all of their income, minus certain deductions, to the nursing home. If the stimulus payment were considered income, it would likely have to go straight to the nursing home. Since MassHealth recipients cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, there was also concern that the stimulus payments could put many recipients over the asset limit.
Nonetheless, a plan should be made as to how to spend down these funds to bring the recipient back under the $2,000 asset limit. Everyone's situation is different but options may include prepaying for final arrangements, purchasing clothing, electronics or other items that the recipient can use.
In a blog post, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) has clarified that the SSA will not consider stimulus payments as income for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) recipients, and the payments will be excluded from resources for 12 months. Because state Medicaid programs cannot impose eligibility requirements that are stricter than SSI requirements, the payments should not affect MassHealth eligibility.