Massachusetts Medicaid eligibility is determined by many different factors, including your income relative to the federal poverty level for a family of your size. One of the most important criteria for determining whether or not someone can qualify for Medicaid coverage is the amount of assets that person has.
For far too many seniors who are dependent upon Medicaid to pay for the costs of their nursing home care (since Medicare and most other insurers typically won’t pay), the asset limit creates big problems. Seniors usually save money and acquire property over the course of their lifetimes, and they want to leave this property to their loved ones. Unfortunately, this means they have too many assets to qualify for Medicaid. Many seniors end up having to spend down those assets until they drop below Medicaid eligibility limits before Medicaid will finally start to pay for the nursing home services they need.
You do not want to be one of the seniors who loses their assets because you are forced to spend all of your money in a nursing home. To avoid this fate, you need to talk with a Massachusetts Medicaid planning lawyer as soon as you can. The earlier you act to reach out for legal help, the more likely it is you will be able to protect some or all of your property and wealth from being lost due to the need for nursing home care.
Understanding Asset Limits for Medicaid Eligibility
According to Masshealth Financial Eligibility guidelines, for a person to qualify for Medicaid coverage, the individual cannot have countable assets exceeding $2,000. For couples living together in the community where there is financial responsibility, the maximum countable assets are $3,000. This means anyone with countable resources over $2,000 or over $3,000 is not going to be able to get Medicaid coverage.
Countable assets include things like cash, bank accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs); Keogh plans; securities; life insurance policies with cash surrender values above $1,500; certain vehicles; and real estate other than a principal residence. Whether an asset is countable or not is going to depend upon things like whether it is an accessible asset and whether a community spouse (a spouse not moving into a nursing home) will need the asset.
Can You Protect Assets Under Massachusetts Medicaid Eligibility Rules?
Massachusetts Medicaid eligibility rules are strict in what is counted as an asset, because Medicaid is only supposed to be for people who are really in need of assistance from the government to pay for nursing home care. However, this does not mean you must simply accept that you will lose your entire nest egg just because you happen to be forced to go into a nursing home.
There are options for asset protection, including structuring the ownership of assets through the use of a trust which will allow those assets to be kept safe. You need to make sure you use the right legal tools to protect your assets, because not all trusts are useful for qualifying for Medicaid.
If you have a living trust, for example, and you maintain control over the assets which are held within that living trust, the trust assets will still be considered countable resources. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you to determine what kinds of legal tools you can make use of to structure ownership of your assets in order to make sure Medicaid won’t consider them countable resources.
It is important to begin the Medicaid planning process as early as possible, because there is a five-year lookback rule when it comes time to try to get Medicaid to pay for your nursing home. If you have to go into a nursing home and want Medicaid to pay for your care, Medicaid will look back and see if you conducted any transactions over the past five years in which you gave away or transferred assets, or sold assets for less than their worth. If you made transfers within the prior five years, a period of disqualification for Medicaid occurs. The disqualification is for a set number of months, with the number of months calculated by dividing the value of transferred assets by average monthly nursing home costs.
Getting Help from a Massachusetts Medicaid Planning Lawyer
A Massachusetts Medicaid planning lawyer can provide you with help understanding Medicaid eligibility rules and qualifying for benefits without losing all of your life’s work. You should get help as soon as possible, so contact the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C. today. You can give us a call at 508-799-8885 or contact us online to speak with a member of our legal team and discover more about the assistance we offer.