Important: Medicaid Eligibility Levels Have Changed – New Figures for 2019
The government recently published new figures regarding Medicaid eligibility and Medicaid income limits for 2019. They are slightly increased from the 2018 levels.
To achieve Medicaid eligibility, an individual may have no more than $15,450 in total “resources,” as defined by Medicaid. This is an increase of $300 over last year’s level of $15,150. Resources, to Medicaid, include savings, investments, cash value of life insurance, and other assets (normally excluding personal possessions such as cars and jewelry) that can be converted into cash. Retirement accounts are not counted as resources if the Required Minimum Distribution is being made. The equity in your primary residence also does not count as a Medicaid resource, up to a 2019 limit of $878,000; the home has other special rules as well. The equity limit in the home was increased by $20,000 for 2019; in 2018 the limit was $858,000.
Assets held in a revocable trust are considered Medicaid resources, because the grantor of the trust still retains complete control over those resources, and thus could use them toward the cost of his or her medical care. Assets in a qualifying irrevocable trust, in contrast, are no longer under the control of the grantor, and no longer belong to the grantor. Thus, they are not treated as Medicaid resources.
The home has a number of special rules. Whether or not it is your primary residence, how much equity you have in it, and whether you are living there when you receive Medicaid services, all factor into its treatment under Medicaid rules. Please refer to our article, “Is Your Home Exempt from Medicaid?” for more details.
If an individual is receiving Medicaid services in the community (and not in a nursing home), that individual is now permitted to keep $879 per month to pay for living expenses, up from $862 in 2018 (The levels for each year include a $20 “disregard” that is added to the official Medicaid level). Any income over this amount will be considered “surplus income.” If the person receiving the services does not act to protect his or her remaining income, the entire amount of “surplus income” will be required to be contributed toward the cost of the individual’s care.
New York permits disabled people who are receiving Medicaid benefits in the community to protect their income so it can be used for their benefit, by joining a Pooled Income Trust. You can read more about that subject here.
Implementing an Elder Law plan often involves transferring assets. This can make a person eligible for Community Medicaid very quickly, because in New York, there is no “five year look back” for Community Medicaid. However, if the Community Medicaid recipient enters a nursing home within five years of transferring assets, their eligibility for “Institutional” (nursing home) Medicaid can be affected.
Each person’s situation is unique and the rules are complicated; that’s why consulting an Elder Law attorney can be critical to determining the most advantageous course of action.
If you have questions, or want to meet with us to discuss your long-term care plan and how you can protect yourself, call us at (212) 447-8690 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .