Effective June 1, 2014, Indiana is changing the way Hoosiers will obtain Medicaid coverage in the aged, blind or disabled categories. Currently, Indiana is known as a 209(b) state. When an individual applies for disability coverage, he or she is subjected to additional, more restrictive criteria by the state than the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires for its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) programs. On June 1st, Indiana is converting to an SSI state (otherwise known as a 1634 state) and will follow SSI rules for many of the income and resource eligibility requirements of the Medicaid program. Here are a few highlights of this significant change:

First, beginning June 1, Indiana will automatically enroll individuals that the Social Security Administration determines eligible for SSI into Indiana Medicaid and will accept all SSA determinations of disability. This will eliminate the current burdensome requirement that these aged, blind and disabled applicants complete a separate Medicaid application and go through a second medical review process to be determined eligible for Indiana Medicaid with disability coverage.

Second, under current law, there is no cap on the amount of income an individual may receive and qualify for Medicaid.  Under the new SSI rules, individuals with gross income in excess of $2,163 per month will no longer be eligible for Medicaid unless they establish something known as a Miller Trust.  A Miller Trust is a special legal arrangement for holding some of an individual’s income. A Miller Trust allows the Medicaid recipient to put the amount of his or her income which exceeds $2,163 into the Miller Trust so that his or her income is less than the income standard required for Medicaid eligibility.  Indiana anticipates that 3,900 current nursing home residents will need Miller Trusts as a result of the conversion to an SSI state.  Indiana is not phasing in the Miller Trust requirement, and will be sending letters to all 3,900 nursing home residents about the requirement to establish a Miller Trust when the conversion takes place.

Third, the resource eligibility rules will also be changing as part of Indiana’s conversion to an SSI state.  Individuals will now be entitled to $2,000 in countable resources on the first of each month, and married couples with both spouses receiving Medicaid will be entitled to $3,000 in countable resources on the first of each month, up from $1,500 and $2,250 respectively under current law.  At this time, we do not anticipate significant changes to any other resource eligibility rules.

    The State of Indiana believes that once this transition is complete, recipients should enjoy more comprehensive Medicaid benefits.

     As incoming president of the Indiana Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), my colleagues and I have worked closely with the Family and Social Services Agency (FSSA) to ensure a smooth implementation of these changes. To find more information, you can now visit http://www.in.gov/fssa/4859.htm.  As with any major change, some of the elements may be confusing or difficult to understand.   The attorneys at Geyer & Associates are available to answer any questions and assist Medicaid recipients throughout this process.