Jim, a nursing home resident, contacted Nebraska’s ElderAccessLine asking how to terminate his alimony obligation because the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) didn’t allow it as an allowable deduction in calculating Share of Costs for Medicaid. Jim was divorced in 1986, and it was clear from looking at his divorce decree that his alimony obligation ended in 1991 and he was not in arrears.
Through work with a ElderAccessLine attorney, it was discovered that Jim had a pension with Goodyear Tire to which his ex-wife was given a share as part of a property division during the divorce. DHHS, however, erroneously classified it as spousal support, most likely because they saw a continuing deduction going to a spouse and just assumed it was alimony. After much discussion with a DHHS social worker, explaining that it was not a garnishment since it was being taken from his pension check, DHHS recalculated Jim’s Share of Cost and corrected the issue.