You may be at a stage where you are considering care for your elder years. You have probably accumulated assets that you would like to use for a variety of purposes such as a grandchild’s college or retirement. Medical advances have led to longer, more active lives, but they have also increased the likelihood that you may require long-term care. Long-term care is very expensive. In New York, a year of long-term care can cost more than $200,000. Medicaid is the only public program that covers long-term care and it has strict eligibility requirements. Only individuals with $14,550 or less in countable assets are eligible for Medicaid, leading many people to think that they must forego public benefits or spend their life’s savings before applying for aid.
However, there are actions that can be taken such as:
- Spousal refusal to contribute to care,
- Making gifts, or
- Establishing a supplemental needs trust
These actions can allow you to maximize government benefits and also ensure that your family retains assets that you have worked hard to earn throughout your life. You should not pay for something that can be covered under Medicaid. With regards to Medicaid for long-term care:
- The asset allowance for an individual is $14,850.
- Married couples who apply for home care together are allowed to retain $1,209 in monthly income (plus a $20 unearned income credit for some couples) and up to $21,750 in assets.
- If the applicant is not married and receives health care at home, he or she will be entitled to retain $825 of monthly income (plus a $20 unearned income credit in some instances).
- An individual, whether single or married, receiving skilled nursing care, is allowed to retain only $50 of monthly income as a personal allowance.
Consult with an experienced attorney for your Medicaid and estate planning needs.