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Probate surprise: We owe the state $7,000

April 5th, 2016 at 07:29 am

So we're in the middle of the long and very drawn-out probate process. There's a 5-month window of time where you basically just sit back and see if anyone makes a claim for money owed.

I thought I had everything pretty much covered, with just one thing up in the air, a recurring bill of about $76 a month for a rented wheelchair that Masonicare can't find. Annoying, but I believe I don't owe any money for that since it's Masonicare's fault they can't locate the chair. They have told me several times, "Don't worry about it, we'll take care of it."

But then last week I got a letter from state of CT informing the probate judge (and copying me) they, Dept of Administrative Services, may have a claim against the estate. I couldn't tell by looking at the letter whether it was a form letter and possibly nothing was owed or if it concerned something specific.

The only thing I could think of was the SNAP program which my mother qualified for due to her very low income, but I had called the state shortly after moving her into assisted living last May to cancel those benefits.

So imagine my surprise when I talked to the person who sent me the letter when they told me I (meaning, the estate) owe the state of CT $6,991.

Apparently there is a program that involves "Medicare Part B buy-in premiums." The program allows seniors who may be cash-strapped to get a bigger monthly Social Security check by letting the state of CT pick up her monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which would otherwise be deducted from her Social Security checks. When the person dies, if they have no savings left, that's that, but if there is an estate, then the state will look to recoup all that money they paid for Medicare Part B premiums.

The monthly premium was $58 a month when my mother elected to do this in 2003, but it rose over time and she kept doing it until 2010!

I never heard of this program, and I don't know how my mother knew of it either. I am sure that when the program was explained to her that what she heard was, you can get bigger Social Security checks this way but I am sure she didn't realize the money would have to be paid back later.

From the state of CT website:
Q. Do I have to pay back any of the benefits that I receive from MSP?

A. We will not recover money for this program for any benefits that you receive after
January 1, 2010. However, if you received any benefits under MSP before January 1, 2010, the State can recover money equal to the amount of benefits you received.

Well, we can certainly pay it and of course we will, but it was a little startling to learn of such a large bill.

Oh well. Live and learn. At least we'll get back about $1,100 from her tax returns.

Oh, and coincidentally, the guy I spoke to on the phone said "we don't go after SNAP program benefits." Meaning if they were spent after they were loaded onto the debit card after program eligibility had ended, they wouldn't insist on reimbursement.

5 Responses to “Probate surprise: We owe the state $7,000”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Wow. I've never heard of such a program; I wonder if it is unique to Connecticut.

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    No, when i researched the law, it seems other states have it too becus it is after all a federal program, one that's administered by the state.

  3. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Have you already disbursed her estate?

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    No, not til fall, probably....a few more forms/steps before that can happen.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Not a nice surprise!

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