Company’s Ability to Change Terms of Irrevocable Annuity Does Not Make It Available Resource

A U.S. district court rules that a Medicaid applicant’s irrevocable annuity is not an available resource even though the company issuing the annuity has the authority to change its terms. Cushing v. Jacobs (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.N.J., No. 20-cv- 130, March 25, 2020). 

Jane Cushing purchased an irrevocable annuity from the Croatian Fraternal Union of America (Croatian). The annuity had a provision that the president or treasurer of Croatian could change or waive the contract’s requirements. Ms. Cushing applied for Medicaid. The state decided that because the president or treasurer of Croatian could change its terms, the annuity was revocable. The state denied Ms. Cushing benefits due to excess assets. 

Ms. Cushing sued the state in federal court, arguing that the annuity is not an available resource, and filed a motion for summary judgment. The state argued that in a previous case (MM v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, OAL Docket No. HMA 1057- 2019), a Medicaid applicant asked the president to change the terms of her annuity purchased through Croatian, so the state determined that the annuity was revocable and denied the applicant benefits. 

The U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, grants Ms. Cushing summary judgment, holding that the annuity is not an available resource. According to the court, the annuity contract is “unambiguous on the issue of revocability,” and the prior case had no bearing on Ms. Cushing’s annuity. 

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