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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default How to Qualify for a Housing Subsidy After Separation From Your Spouse

    After 50+ years of an unpleasant marriage, my parents have separated (i.e., living apart, but with no legal action (yet)). My mother (early 70's) lives in an assisted living facility in Wyoming, and my father (early 80's) has moved (temporarily) into my home in Washington. They have moderate income (his state retirement + SS for both). They also own their home (now vacant) and some CD's.

    We've been looking at senior apartments for my father. Because nearly half of his income goes to pay for my mother's assisted living facility cost, his available income is low, and in fact, is well below the limit for low-income housing. Unfortunately, all of the subsidized housing we've looked at makes no allowance for my mother's housing expenses, and considers his full income in their calculation, placing him above the eligibility threshold.

    So here's the question: are there any legal options available which would enable him to exclude my mother's housing expenses from his income? Divorce is a possibility, but my assumption is that the divorce decree would essentially require him to pay maintenance for my mother, which is what he's already doing, so wouldn't really change anything (since I don't see anything on the housing subsidy application that allows divorced spouse maintenance to be excluded from income either).


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: How to Qualfify for a Housing Subsidy After Separation From Your Spouse

    Your father's eligibility for a housing subsidy will depend upon the rules promulgated by the government agency that is providing the subsidy. If under the agency's policies, the agency cannot consider the amount that your father is expending on your mother's assisted living facility when determining if your father qualifies for a subsidy, then he won't qualify for that subsidy. It could also be that the agency would regard the situation as different if your parents were divorced and your father was paying spousal support, as opposed to a situation in which your parents are married and informally separated. Also, assuming that your father is retired, a divorce could divide retirement accounts and split pension benefits such that any pension benefit received by your mother is her income, and any withdrawal made from her post-divorce retirement accounts has no impact on your father's income.

    If you want to ask about a specific housing program, perhaps somebody will look up the rules for that program. You should also consider speaking with a social services agency in the county where your father is seeking housing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Re: How to Qualfify for a Housing Subsidy After Separation From Your Spouse

    Thank you for the insight. Subsequent to posting my question, I learned that (as you also stated) retirement/pension benefits can be legally split between divorced/legally separated spouses (apparently, this is called a "domestic relations order"). I was not previously aware that this was a possibility, as I had incorrectly assumed that his entire retirement benefit would forever be paid directly to him, and that he would then send a portion to my mother, as directed by the divorce/separation agreement.

    Anyway, this does seem like an excellent way of addressing the housing subsidy qualification issue, and given that there is little love lost between them, a divorce would offer other benefits as well.

    Thanks again.

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