Do State Unemployment Benefits Count as Income in Determining Eligibility for Part D Subsidy?

Do State Unemployment Benefits Count as Income in Determining Eligibility for Part D Subsidy?

We recently had a good question come to our office regarding unemployment benefits and eligibility for the Part D low-income subsidy (LIS). Below is the question along with the short and long answer.

1.      Does state unemployment benefits count as income for determining LIS eligibility?
Short answer: state unemployment benefits count as income for LIS eligibility.
Long answer: The definition of income for LIS is the same as for SSI, which is “any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter.”  Items that fall into the definition can be excluded by statute.  Example, in-kind support is income, but MIPPA excludes it as countable income for LIS eligibility effective Jan 1, 2010.  State unemployment benefits fall into the definition of income and has not been excluded by statute, thus it is counted as income for LIS purposes.

Question: Do state unemployment benefits count as income for determining LIS eligibility?

Short answer: Yes, state unemployment benefits do count as income for LIS eligibility.

Long answer: The definition of income for  the low-income subsidy is the same as for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is “any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter.”  Items that fall into this definition can be excluded by statute.  For example, in-kind support is income, but the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) excludes it as countable income for LIS eligibility effective Jan 1, 2010.  State unemployment benefits fall into the definition of income and has not been excluded by statute, thus it is counted as income for LIS purposes.

Click here for more general information on the Part D low-income subsidy.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.