Over 90 million Americans are currently enrolled in their state’s Medicaid and CHIP programs. While everyone over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, the program doesn’t cover everything they need. One of the most important differences between Medicare and Medicaid is that Medicaid can cover long-term care expenses, while Medicare provides only limited coverage for skilled care in a nursing facility.
If you want to apply for Medicaid, you should know that eligibility is partially determined through income and asset limits, meaning that you will not qualify if you exceed those limits. At Slutsky Elder Law, our clients in Montgomery County, PA, and the surrounding area often come to us with questions about Medicaid eligibility. Read on to find out more about Medicaid and what assets you can have and still qualify for the program.
Do I Qualify for Medicaid?
The term “Medicaid” refers to several programs designed to help seniors, the disabled, and those facing financial difficulties receive the medical care they need. This can include in-home care, adult day care, skilled care in a nursing facility, and more. The need for Medicaid is determined through income and asset limits and whether you need the type of care typically provided in a nursing home. Asset limits vary depending on your marital status, and the American Council on Aging has compiled those numbers for 2022 in a convenient table. You can also take their Medicaid Eligibility Test here.
Medicaid Asset Limits
When applying for Medicaid all assets must be counted, including stocks, bonds, investments, savings, and checking accounts. Some assets are considered non-countable and will not count toward your asset total. These include:
- Personal belongings
- Household items
- One vehicle
- Irrevocable burial trusts
- Your primary home
- Some types of life insurance
To have your home considered a non-countable asset, you must currently live in it, have the intent to return to it, or have a spouse that lives in it. Your home equity interest must also be no greater than $688,000 in 2023.
If you are married, assets owned by you or your spouse are considered jointly owned; however, the non-applicant spouse can retain half of the couple’s assets up to a maximum of $148,240. If the non-applicant’s portion of the assets is less than $29,724, they can retain 100% of that amount.
Spending Down Assets to Qualify for Medicaid
If the value of your assets is currently too high to qualify for Medicaid, it is possible to spend them down on non-countable assets to qualify in the future. You can also gift some assets, but you must do so outside of Pennsylvania’s 5-year Medicaid Look-Back period. That means that no transfers of assets can take place in the 5 years preceding your application date without getting reasonable compensation in return. If any issues are found, you will be unable to apply for Medicaid again for some time. There are some exceptions to this rule, which are outlined here.
Applying for Medicaid in Pennsylvania
The Medicaid application process can be extremely complex, and if you fail to qualify because of an asset sale or gift during the look-back period, you will be unable to apply again for some time. If you are depending on a successful Medicaid application to cover your long-term care expenses, you need to make sure you qualify the first time you apply. In these cases, the best thing to do is speak with an elder law attorney in the Chester County, PA area. Elder Care Attorney Rob Slutsky has been serving Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, and Bucks Counties for over three decades.
As one of the first dedicated elder law attorneys in Pennsylvania, Robert Slutsky has the experience it takes to advise you on Medicaid asset protection strategies that will ensure a successful application. Get in touch with Slutsky Elder Law today by calling (610) 940-0650 or by filling out the online form on our contact page.