(a) The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) will not recover from estates if recovery would cause undue hardship. An undue hardship waiver request form will be provided with the MERP Notice of Intent to File a Claim, and undue hardship waiver requests must be made within 60 days of the date of the MERP Notice of Intent to File a Claim. (b) An undue hardship does not exist solely because: (1) Recovery would prevent heirs or legatees from receiving an anticipated inheritance; or (2) The circumstances giving rise to the hardship were created by, or are the result of, estate planning methods under which assets were sheltered or divested contrary to the requirements of Medicaid law in order to avoid estate recovery. (c) Undue hardship waivers include: (1) The estate property subject to recovery has been the site of the operation of a family business, farm, or ranch at that location for at least 12 months prior to the death of the decedent; is the primary income producing asset of heirs and legatees, and produces 50 percent or more of their livelihood; and recovery by the State would affect the property and result in the heirs or legatees losing their primary source of income; (2) Heirs and legatees would become eligible for public and/or medical assistance if a recovery claim were made; (3) Allowing one or more survivors to receive the estate will enable him or her or them to discontinue eligibility for public and/or medical assistance; (4) The Medicaid recipient received medical assistance as the result of a crime, as defined by Texas law, committed against the recipient; or (5) Other compelling reasons. (d) Undue Hardship Waivers Applicable to Homesteads After receiving a Medicaid estate recovery claim, an heir may assert that recovery against a deceased Medicaid recipient's homestead would be an undue hardship and that the homestead should therefore be exempt from recovery for the cost of Medicaid long-term care services. The Health and Human Services Commission will exempt a decedent's home from estate recovery based on undue hardship when the following conditions have been established to the Commission's satisfaction: (1) The tax appraisal district value of the homestead is less than $100,000. If the tax appraisal district value of the homestead exceeds this amount, the first $100,000 of the tax appraisal district value for the most recent tax year at the time of the recipients' death shall be exempt from estate recovery. Any equity value of the tax appraisal district value for the most recent tax year at the time of the recipients' death in excess of $100,000 is subject to estate recovery. (2) One or more siblings or direct descendents of the deceased person (lineal heir(s), such as children and grandchildren) will inherit the homestead of the deceased Medicaid recipient, provided that each sibling or lineal heir inheriting the homestead has gross family income below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. (3) When there are multiple heirs and not all heirs qualify for the hardship waiver, only that percentage of the homestead that corresponds to the qualifying heir or heirs' share of the homestead will be exempt from Medicaid estate recovery. (4) "300 percent of the federal poverty level" is a gross income test; no exclusions or deductions are allowed. (5) "Family" means that the Health and Human Services Commission will consider each heir separately. Heirs will not be aggregated into one family unless the heirs are minor children who are siblings. In the case of the adult heir, his or her family will be limited to the heir, the heir's spouse, and the heir's biological or legally adopted minor children and stepchildren residing in the household. In the case of the heir who is a minor, the heir's family will be the heir, his or her parent(s) or stepparent residing in the household, and the heir's minor siblings residing in the household, including half-, step-, and legally adopted siblings. Attached Graphic (e) HHSC has exclusive authority to waive its Medicaid estate recovery claim and grant undue hardship waivers as determined by the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) program on an individual case-by-case basis. An undue hardship waiver determination will be made by MERP within 40 days of the receipt of an undue hardship waiver request form and all required necessary supporting documents by MERP. (f) Undue hardship waiver request forms must be submitted to the following address: MERP, Hardship Waiver Request, P.O. Box 13247, Austin, Texas 78711.
Source Note: The provisions of this §373.209 adopted to be effective March 1, 2005, 30 TexReg 830