To be eligible for Medicaid, which is a need-based program, certain income and asset requirements must be met. Oftentimes, one spouse will require care in a skilled nursing facility, while the other spouse continues to reside in the community home. More often than not, the spouse residing in the community home depends largely on joint income and assets in order to continue to pay necessary expenses. For this reason, Medicaid provides certain spousal allowances, which allow the community spouse to retain his or her income plus the institutionalized spouse’s income up to a total of $3,022.50.
While a Medicaid applicant is not allowed to have more than $14,850.00 in his or her name at the time of application, a community spouse may retain up to $120,900.00 in liquid assets in addition to a home. It is worth mentioning that a Medicaid applicant may also have qualified retirement accounts and a pre-paid burial in his or her name at the time of application. These assets do not count towards the $14,850.00 limit, so are therefore considered exempt for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
In New York State, in accordance with Medicaid law, the community spouse may sign a spousal refusal form that must be filed with the Medicaid application, which will allow the Medicaid applicant’s eligibility to be determined without considering the community spouse’s assets or income. Assuming the document is signed and filed in a timely manner, the community spouse is able to keep more assets without risking their spouse’s eligibility. Signing a spousal refusal may be extremely beneficial if one spouse requires care in a skilled nursing facility, while the other remains in the home.
In addition, the law allows for some transfers of certain assets from the institutionalized spouse to the community spouse without triggering the five-year look-back period. This benefit provides a bit more leeway for those who may experience a sudden crisis, such as failing to pre-plan for future needs. However, it is important to always plan ahead. Planning ahead for Medicaid eligibility will help in preserving assets in order to minimize any financial impact on family members or loved ones. This will ensure that those closest to you are cared for in the future.
If you are in the process of estate planning, an experienced attorney can provide you with the legal guidance necessary to help plan for you and your loved ones’ future needs. From the simple to complex, the attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates are skilled in all aspects of estate planning and are dedicated to representing their clients with diligence and compassion. With an office conveniently located in Garden City, Nassau County, the firm is dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation at reasonable costs. Contact our Long Island estate planning lawyers at (516) 280-7105 to arrange a free consultation.