Medicaid Eligibility For Seniors
By Elder Law attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in west suburban Chicagoland, IL. Let’s get a little more in-depth on the issue of Medicaid eligibility. What assets “count” for Medicaid, and which are exempt or non-countable? For single individuals in Illinois, Medicaid considers that all assets that are classified as “countable” are to be spent on skilled nursing home care before eligibility is granted. The individual would be allowed to keep only assets that are considered as non-countable. This can include a prepaid funeral, a small cash allowance, etc. For married couples, all countable assets in a marriage are considered as being jointly held and available to be spent on the institutionalized spouse, subject to certain spousal allowance limits. A provision referred to as the spousal impoverishment rule allows the “community spouse” (or, the healthy spouse) to retain a certain amount of assets and income. Beyond this allowance, all of the couple’s assets earned by either partner and owned by either partner or jointly, are generally considered countable and available to fund the institutionalized spouse’s care. The community, or healthy, spouse’s assets are still counted as part of the couple’s assets even if:
- There is a premarital agreement that the assets belong to the community spouse and shall not be claimed by the other.
- They were never contributed to by the institutionalized spouse.
- The couple lives in a community property state (i.e., where assets that are brought into the marriage are not subject to division in a divorce).