Article 29-Estate Planning Series: Qualifying for Medicaid Assistance – Part 4 – Income limits

Written by Wright Law on . Posted in Estate Planning, Long Term Care

In recent columns, I have been addressing how a senior must qualify before Medicaid will assist with the cost of long term care.  One requirement is to establish financial necessity, which requires a review of the Medicaid applicant’s assets and monthly income.  This column will address the income requirement to qualify for Medicaid. 

Currently, a senior applicant must have a monthly income of $2219 (which includes what is called a “standard disregard” of $20) or less to qualify for Medicaid long term care assistance.  That income will be used to help pay the applicant’s share of the cost of care. 

There are multiple ways in which an applicant’s income may be calculated.  Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, the department charged with implementing Medicaid for Idaho recipients, will apply the standard most beneficial to the applicant.

Not surprisingly, the first method is to simply look at the gross income of the individual. If it is less than the income limit, the income requirement is met.  Significantly, the income of the applicant’s spouse is not counted.

Alternatively, Medicaid will look at the combined income of a married couple and attribute half of the total income to the applicant.  Again, if the attributed amount is less than the monthly limit, the income requirement is met.

There may also be circumstances in which the income of the community spouse is so low that the community spouse will be left impoverished if the applicant spouse’s income is used entirely for that spouse’s own care.  In such cases, the community spouse will actually be entitled to some of the income of the applicant spouse. 

Finally, there may be some situations in which the income of the applicant is over the income limit.  Yet, but for this one issue, Medicaid is the most appropriate (or only) option to receive long term care assistance.  There is a way to qualify for Medicaid assistance, even if the applicant’s income is over the income limit.  I will address this option in my next column.

© 2015 Steven J Wright  

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