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Medicaid Agency May Include Guardianship Expenses As Resource in Determining Eligibility

A New York appeals court concludes that the trial court ruling on a guardianship erred in directing the state’s Medicaid agency to disregard an incapacitated woman’s guardianship expenses when determining her eligibility for Medicaid benefits. In the Matter of Deanna W. (N.Y., App., 2nd Dept., No. 2009-04283, Sept. 7, 2010).  This means that the funds set aside to pay expenses are considered a resource available to the incapacitated person, potentially rendering her ineligible for Medicaid benefits.

After Deanna W. was determined to be an incapacitated person, a guardian was appointed to manage her finances. The court directed the guardian to set aside certain sums to pay for expenses associated with the guardianship proceeding and for his compensation. The court also directed the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) to disregard this money when determining Deanna W.’s eligibility for Medicaid benefits. The agency appealed, asserting that the court exceeded its authority in directing that the sums not be considered.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, reverses the Supreme Court’s order. The court concludes that state law does not provide an exception for disregarding the guardianship expenses when determining Medicaid eligibility as ordered by the Supreme Court and that DSS’s interpretation of its regulations was reasonable.

For the full text of this decision, go to: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_06805.htm.