At the end of 2020, Congress approved new stimulus payments for most Americans. Stimulus payments by direct deposit are already going out. The Treasury Department is sending others by check or debit cards in the mail. Under President Biden, we may see more stimulus payments coming as well.
With that in mind, let’s consider those who may have limited income and receive means-tested assistance, such as TennCare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Those individuals or their loved ones may be concerned that the additional funds contributed to their bank account may disqualify them from benefits. However, the Social Security Administration has clearly said that stimulus payments do not count as income for means-tested assistance- at least not in the year it is received. For those receiving TennCare, you have twelve months to spend your stimulus payment.
If you care for someone in a facility, the facility may try to claim the stimulus payment on behalf of the patient. This is especially true if the facility is the Representative Payee for the patient’s Social Security check. However, the stimulus payment belongs to the patient, not the facility. It is not part of the patient liability payment for TennCare.
While a facility may request payment for debts owed before a patient received TennCare, they cannot hold stimulus payments hostage. A patient or their legal representative may agree to have the funds held in a patient trust account at the facility.
No matter who holds a stimulus payment, it must be used for the benefit of the recipient. If you care for someone who received one, consider what these funds might be used for to improve their quality of life for the year ahead.
If you have any questions about a nursing home trying to keep your loved one’s stimulus payment, book a call with us now.