Article 30-Estate Planning Series: Qualifying for Medicaid Assistance – Part 5 – Income Limits

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

In recent weeks I explained that a senior seeking Medicaid assistance for long term care cannot have monthly income over a certain amount ($2219 for 2015) to qualify.  However, there are several ways in which the applicant’s income can be calculated, based in significant part on the income of the applicant’s spouse.

What if the applicant’s income is over the permitted limit, regardless of how that income is calculated?  If there is no other realistic option for long term care assistance, what is that person to do? 

If income is the only obstacle, there may be one more way to qualify for Medicaid assistance.  It is called a “Miller” trust, named after the Court case that approved this approach.

Several weeks ago, I explained that a trust functions much like a wagon.  If you place your things in a wagon, those things remain yours even if someone else pulls the wagon. 

In the case of a Miller trust, a spouse or other trusted relative pulls the wagon (i.e. serves as the trustee).  That person opens an account in the name of the trust, and your income is deposited into that account.   The money in that account (including the “excess” income) must be used to pay for your care.  A Miller trust is a way in which the government can ensure your money is used for one purpose . . . to pay for as much of your care as possible.  If there is additional cost, this will be provided by Medicaid. 

By using a “Miller” trust, excess income will not disqualify you from Medicaid assistance, while also ensuring your income is used to defray the cost to Medicaid to provide for your care.   In upcoming articles, I will begin addressing the remaining requirement to qualify for Medicaid assistance; the limit on assets a person may have to qualify. 

© 2015 Steven J Wright  

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