Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) Last Updated May 25, 2022

Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction
  2. How Does It Work?
  3. Who Is It For?
  4. How Do I Maximize My Spouse's Income?


If you are married and applying for Medicaid, your spouse's income cannot disqualify you from Medicaid funds, no matter how much he or she earns. This is because, unlike assets which are treated jointly, income is treated separately for each spouse.

But what if your spouse earns very little income of his or her own, or no income at all?

If your spouse's income falls below a certain threshold, you are entitled to give your spouse a portion of your income to supplement his or her needs, and for that transferred amount to not count against your Medicaid eligibility. That threshold is called the "Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance," or "MMMNA."

The Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) is the minimum income your spouse is entitled to have each month. If his or her income falls below the MMMNA, you can transfer a portion of your income to your spouse without penalty.

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How does it work?

When you apply for Medicaid, your spouse is entitled to a certain amount of income per month to help maintain living standards. If his or her income is below the MMMNA, you are entitled to transfer just enough of your income to bring your spouse's total income up to the MMMNA.

Each state determines its own specific MMMNA amount within federal guidelines, which are updated annually. The 2017 federal guideline is $2,002.50 to $3,022.50 per month, so your state's MMMNA is somewhere between those amounts.

Let's say your state's MMMNA is $2,500.

If your spouse collects $3,000 per month in total income (wages, Social Security income, etc.), then you will not be allowed to transfer any of your income to your spouse without Medicaid penalties, because his or her income is above the MMMNA.

But if your spouse collects only $2,000 of income per month, then he or she has a "shortfall" amount of $500, meaning income that is $500 below the MMMNA. In this case, you are allowed to transfer up to $500 to your spouse as a "Monthly Income Allowance (MIA)." Note that you cannot transfer more than $500, as that would make your spouse's income exceed the MMMNA.

Who is it for?

The MMMNA is a consideration only for married couples where one spouse is applying for Medicaid (the "Institutionalized Spouse"), the other spouse is not (the "Community Spouse"), and the Community Spouse's income is below the state's MMMNA.

The 2017 federal guidelines for Minimum and Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowances can be found here.

Updated information on your particular state can be found here.

How do I maximize my spouse's income?

Using the MMMNA to supplement your spouse's income should be part of your overall Medicaid strategy, taking into account your and your spouse's individual incomes and assets. Professional advice from a Medicaid expert is essential.

Where possible, a Medicaid expert can also help you increase your MMMNA, allowing you to supplement your spouse's income to the maximum amount allowable. For example, some states have a provision called an "Excess Shelter Allowance (ESA)," in which the MMMNA may be raised for people living in areas with high "shelter" costs (rent, mortgage, real estate taxes, etc.).

If you and your Medicaid expert believe the MMMNA is too low for your spouse to meet his or her needs, you may attempt an increase through a Fair Hearing or Court Order. An increase would be feasible especially if your spouse receives care through assisted living or other high-cost services.

Additionally, you may be able to transfer additional income if other family members are living with your spouse. Again, a Medicaid expert can advise.