The MLO Minute: By Jennifer Simons, Esq.
By now many individuals have received at least two, and possibly three, Covid-19 economic stimulus payments. These payments were issued by the federal government to provide financial assistance to those struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help stimulate the economy. Most eligible individuals received a first check of $1,200.00, another check for $600.00, and with the passage of the most recent Covid-19 relief bill, many people will also receive a third stimulus payment of $1,400.00. Many of our clients who are receiving resource-based public benefits have asked whether the receipt of these payments will affect their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medical Assistance/Medicaid (MA) benefits.
Resource-based publics benefits such as SSI and MA typically do not permit an individual to have resources in excess of $2,000.00 in his/her name. There are also strict income limits for both SSI and MA. Consequently, people receiving these benefits have been concerned as to whether the stimulus payments would count as a resource, or as income, and whether the receipt of this money would affect their eligibility for SSI and MA. The answer to both questions is no. Stimulus payments do not count as a resource in determining Medicaid eligibility and are not considered income. Additionally, stimulus payments are not considered income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded as resources. However, although the payments are not counted as a resource when first received, if an individual still has his/her stimulus payments after 12 months, it would then count as a resource for both MA and SSI eligibility.