Please see the below fact sheet from the Center for Elder Law & Justice :
On Dec. 21, 2020, Congress announced a new round of economic impact payments (also called stimulus checks or IRS payments). Most nursing home residents will be eligible to receive the full payment of $600. Here’s what residents, their family, and advocates need to know to.
How Will Residents Get Their Payment?
Most residents will get their payment automatically. Residents who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Railroad Retiree or Veteran Benefits will receive their payment in the same account where they receive their benefits. Residents who do not receive these benefits will have their payment sent directly to their bank account if they filed their 2018 or 2019 tax return with direct deposit and otherwise will receive a check or debit card in the mail to their address on file with IRS. If a resident or representative is unsure of where their payment was sent, they may can visit “http://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-mypayment” to track their payment and/or ask their facility if a check was received.
Can a Nursing Home Take a Resident’s Payment?
No. The payment is for the resident and not the facility to spend. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is responsible for regulating nursing homes, has stated that it is prohibited for nursing homes to seize resident stimulus payments to pay for debts or for any other reason. It is common for nursing homes to act as representative payee for their residents and manage their income. As such, they may not be aware that this is prohibited and may improperly intercept the payment. The payment belongs to residents and facilities must make it available to them to spend as they see fit. See the link to our blog at the end of this fact sheet for more information on what responsibilities nursing homes have when receiving these payments.
Does the Payment Impact Medicaid Eligibility?
No. The payment does not count as income towards government benefits including Medicaid, SSI, and other means tested programs for the first 12 months. However, if the funds are not spend within 12 months, the funds may be counted as an asset (resource) which could impact eligibility. As the payments are not considered income they do not have to be given to the nursing home as part of the resident’s Net Available Monthly Income (NAMI).
What Can the Payment be used for?
There are no limitations on what they funds can be used for and residents should spend them as they see fit. Examples of what residents may want to buy include: a cellphone or telephone in their room, television or other electronic devices, personal internet access, clothing, books, etc. However, we do caution that residents may be at risk for financial exploitation and other forms of abuse. Additionally, residents may want to avoid spending the payment on items that would count as a resource and potentially impact their Medicaid eligibility (e.g. collectible coins).
Who can residents Contact if their Nursing Home took their payment?
If residents find that their payment was taken by their home, they can contact:
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP): LTCOP is an advocate and resource for nursing home and adult care facility residents. An ombudsman can advocate for you to have your payment returned. Residents in Western New York can contact the program by calling (716) 817-9222 (opt. 1 or 2). All other residents can find their local program at the following website: https://aging.ny.gov/long-term-care-ombudsman-program
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH): The NYSDOH is responsible for inspecting nursing homes in the state and ensuring compliance with all regulations. Residents can call the NYSDOH nursing home complaint hotline to report that their payment was seized and request assistance in having it returned. Call the hotline at 1-888-201-4563. Adult Care Facility residents also have a complain hotline with the NYSDOH and can call at 1-866-893-6772.
The New York State Attorney General: The NYS Attorney General has a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) that investigates and prosecutes issues of abuse and neglect of residents in all residential care facilities including nursing homes. Complaints can be made by calling the MFCU hotline at 800-771-7755.
The Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ): CELJ is available to answer your questions about the payment and to assist with concerns about coercion, financial exploitation, and other forms of abuse. Our free legal advice helpline can provide answers to brief legal questions to residents of New York State who are 55 or older. Call at 1-844-481-0973 between 9am and 11am to reach an attorney directly or call and leave a message. The helpline can also be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, our office is open for new intake and can contacted at (716) 853-3087 and additional informational resources are available for residents online at:
For more information on the payment, including the responsibilities of nursing homes when residents decide to deposit their payment in a facility account and what to do if the IRS fails to send you the payment despite being eligible, see our blog on the topic here: https://elderjusticeny.org/stimulus-check-paymentsnursing-home-residents/.
The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship, nor is it legal advice.