2020 Spousal Impoverishment and Home Equity Figures Start to Trickle Out

States are beginning to report the spousal impoverishment standards for 2020, even though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet officially released them.  Due to CMS's apparent departure from past rounding practices, the 2020 numbers differ somewhat from the the earlier and usually quite reliable projections of Pennsylvania ElderLawAnswers member Robert Clofine.

So far Pennsylvania and Minnesota are reporting the spousal impoverishment allowances for 2020 as follows:

Minimum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $25,728

Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $128,640

Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance: $3,216

Home Equity Limits:

Minimum: $595,000

Maximum: [unknown] 

Attorney Clofine explains the discrepancy between the apparently actual 2020 figures and his projections this way: "The base CPI in September 1988 was 119.8. The CPI for September 2019 was 256.759. 256.759 divided by 119.8 is 2.143230383973289. They normally round this to the third decimal place using normal rounding conventions. Thus it would be 2.143 or a 114.3% increase from 9/1988.  Instead, CMS rounded 2.1432303 to 2.144. That accounts for the difference between my numbers and the numbers that they have apparently announced." 

So, for example, while Clofine projected that the Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance would be $126,580, the figure that states are beginning to report is $126,640.  Ironically, by changing its rounding practices the Trump administration is allowing community spouses to keep a little more money ($60 in this case). 

We will confirm these figures and fill in the blanks as soon as we get official word from CMS.