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In order to be eligible for Community (“at home”) Medicaid benefits, you must meet strict financial eligibility standards. One component of the financial eligibility standard is meeting resource eligibility. To qualify for benefits, you must not have over $14,850 (2017) in “non-exempt” assets in your name.
It is important to classify assets as either exempt or non-exempt since exempt assets do not count against the $14,850 that you can have in your name.
Some examples of exempt assets for Community Medicaid are:
- One vehicle
- Your home as long as you or your spouse reside in the home
- Burial plot
- Pre-paid irrevocable funeral arrangements
- Cash value of a small life insurance policy
Some examples of non-exempt assets are:
- Cash or other liquid assets in excess of $14,850
- Other homes or property you may own
- Life insurance policies with a face amount over $1,500
If you have more than the allowable amount of non-exempt assets in your name, there are ways to protect those assets and still be eligible for Medicaid Long-Term Care benefits.
Typically, the most protective way to preserve your assets is by utilizing a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. Through the use of this irrevocable trust, the assets are in the name of the trust and not in your name and therefore not counted as available.
Another way to reduce the amount of countable resources in your name is to purchase exempt resources or exhaust those resources on appropriate “spend down” items.
A spend down is the purchase of appropriate goods or services for the purpose of meeting Medicaid’s strict resource eligibility test, in order to qualify for government assistance. You may choose to deplete non-exempt resources on qualifying spend down items to avoid unnecessarily depleting family assets.
A few examples of appropriate spend down items are:
- Costs to repair your home
- Fees for professional services, such as attorney fees and accountant’s fees
- The purchase of certain personal property items
Before spending down your non-exempt assets, it is critical to consult with an experienced Elder Law Attorney to discuss the options and what would work best for you in your situation.
If you or a loved one need assistance in planning for Medicaid or assessing Medicaid eligibility, contact us to see how we can help.