A new year is right around the corner! That means adjusting many of our calculations for our elder law and Veteran clients. Below is a summary of the new figures, for easy reference.
Medicaid spousal impoverishment figures
In 1988, Congress enacted certain protections to prevent a community spouse from being impoverished when an ailing spouse needs long-term care. Under the spousal impoverishment protections, a certain amount of income and resources for the community spouse is protected or non-countable when determining Medicaid eligibility for the spouse in need of care. Below are the minimum and maximum amount of resources and income that can be protected for a community spouse in 2019. Notably, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance increased to $3,160.50; the minimum community spouse resource allowance has increased to $25,284.00; the maximum community spouse resource allowance has increased to $126,420.00; and the home equity limit was increased to $585,000.00 for many states and $878,000.00 for others. As a reminder, even though these are federal figures, some states implement them differently and at different times. You can bookmark the below figures here.
New VA pension amounts
The big news of 2018 in the world of Veterans law was the implementation of the new eligibility rules. Effective October 18, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued new rules regarding the eligibility of applicants applying for pension and needs-based benefits. These new rules apply to the following benefits: basic Veterans pension, aid and attendance pension, housebound pension and survivors’ pension. Here is the new Form 21P-534EZ to use when applying for Veterans benefits. The below figures are the 2019 monthly and annual COLA amounts that claimants would be eligible to receive under the various programs.
Federal estate and gift tax exemption rates
The 2019 federal estate and gift tax exemption rates have increased to $11.4 million for an individual and $22.8 million per couple. The annual gift exclusion remains $15,000 per year. On November 20, 2018, the IRS announced proposed regulations stating that folks taking advantage of the increased gift and estate tax exclusion amounts in effect from 2018 through 2025, the timeline for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to remain effective, will not be adversely impacted after 2025 when the exclusion amounts return to pre-2018 levels. The proposed regulations offer a distinct rule that permits an estate to calculate its estate tax using the higher of the basic exclusion amount applicable to gifts made during life or the basic exclusion amount applicable as of the date of death. The proposed regulations are in the public comment phase.
Wishing you a prosperous and joyful 2019!