Question: What are the requirements to be eligible for Medicaid?
Answer: There are basically three requirements to be eligible for Medicaid. First, skilled nursing care must be recommended for that person and the state agency must approve that recommendation of the need for skilled nursing home care.
Second, there is an asset limit which will vary from state to state as each state. This asset limit is usually $2,000 for the Medicaid applicant and $117,240 for the spouse (non-Medicaid applicant). If both spouses are in the nursing home the figure is $3,000 for both of them combined. However, do to some differences between states, it is always best to check with an Elder Law Attorney for any variations from the norm. In proper planning for these individuals or couples, it may become necessary to change the character of an asset (for instance a CD) into an income stream (place funds into an annuity) or convert the asset into an exempt asset such as a roof repair on the family home.
Third, there is an income limit that must be met as well as the asset limit. For instance in Florida the limit is $2,163 a month and this includes all income (Social Security, pension, rental income, interest income, etc.). Florida is an income cap state, which means that if you receive more than $2,163 a month then the Medicaid applicant must establish a Qualified Income Trust to hold most, if not all, of his/her income. Whether or not the need for a Qualified Income Trust is necessary, all of the Medicaid patient’s monthly income goes to the nursing facility with $35 a month set aside for the patient’s haircuts, nails, etc.
In all instances, whenever a question exists regarding Medicaid eligibility, one would be wise to consult with an elder law attorney as the rules can be tricky and may a family has tripped over a Medicaid rule although well meaning in their intentions.
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Ivan Michael Tucker, Esq.
Law Office of I. Michael Tucker, PLC
Altamonte Springs, Florida
An ElderCare Matters Partner