Single applicants can become eligible for Medicaid by spending down.
This doesn’t mean a single person can’t protect his money. But gifting intra-family is now more difficult if there’s a possibility of long-term care… especially since the new Deficit Reduction Act extended the “look-back period” (when the state is allowed to examine your finances) from three years to five.
Single people need to focus on income first, and then the asset base. For example, let’s say George, a widowed veteran, has Social Security income of $1,300, a pension of $1,100, and a wartime veteran’s pension of $1,703… bringing his monthly income to $4,103. Let’s say that George has dementia, and needs 24-hour-a-day care.
The monthly nursing home cost would be $6,200 and his prescriptions average $300 per month, bringing the monthly bill to $6,500. There’s a $2,515 shortfall between here. George has $400,000 in the bank. But how long will that last?
Of course, prices will go up… and this shortfall may grow. If we multiply the monthly shortfall times 60 months (the look-back period), George would need to access at least $150,900 of his $400,000. But – again – keep in mind that this is all guesswork. There are simply too many variables to predict an exact amount that George should gift, and an exact amount to leave “at risk.”
Married couples applying to Medicaid funds face unique problems, partially because they often feel the rules shouldn’t apply to them. For instance: “I’m fine. My wife’s name isn’t on most of our savings and investments anyway.”
Think again – you’re wrong! The state views marital assets as a unit… and it couldn’t care less whose name is on the account!
Then there’s the “Just give it to your kids” argument. WRONG!! This is actually a huge violation of Medicaid rules – an “improper transfer.” Medicaid has very strict gifting rules. You’re navigating very treacherous waters here. Mistakes often are not forgiven. And they’re sometimes impossible to fix.
If you think you’ve seen bureaucracies before… just wait until you get involved with Medicaid!
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we practice Elder Law. For the past 33 years, we’ve helped thousands of South Florida families navigate these treacherous Medicaid waters. And we’ve helped them, as well, with estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset protection, and the VA.
We deal with Medicaid every day. And we can navigate these waters for you.
Give us a call.
Medicaid: Single or Married?