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2nd Stimulus Checks – Same as the 1st?

Last month Congress and President Trump finally agreed to additional stimulus checks to be sent to Americans in need during the current pandemic.  This is the second such round of payments since the COVID crisis hit.  There are some differences, however between this second payment and the first.

The most important change is the amount of the payment – half of what was received in the spring.  Eligible persons are to receive $600.  Married couples will receive $1200 total.  The income limits have also changed slightly.  A single person with less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income as disclosed on his/her 2019 income tax return will receive the full amount.  The amount gets reduced for those with higher income up to a limit of $87,000 at which point there is no longer any entitlement.  Married couples with income under $150,000 receive the full $1200 and then it is reduced until phased out completely at $174,000 of income.

What has not changed is that these payments are treated in the same way as the first payments for those who are receiving or applying for Medicaid benefits.  That means they will not be counted as assets in determining whether an applicant is below the $2000 limit for Medicaid eligibility.  Recipients have one year from the date of receipt of this money to spend it down.  After that point in time, the funds will be counted as an asset, however, the spend down must be within Medicaid rules.  In other words, the funds cannot be gifted or transferred for less than fair value, which would still carry a Medicaid penalty.

Incoming President Joe Biden has indicated he will push Congress to approve a third payment after his inauguration on January 20.