In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits a nursing home resident in Pennsylvania may have no more than $8,000 or, for those whose gross monthly income exceeds $2,382 (in 2021), $2,400, in “countable” assets.  Note that Medicaid is a state-run program, so the rules are somewhat different in each state, although there are federal guidelines.

The spouse of a nursing home resident–called the “community spouse” — is limited to one half of the couple’s joint assets up to $130,380 (in 2021) in “countable” assets. This figure changes each year to reflect inflation. Called the “community spouse resource allowance,” this is the most that a state may allow a community spouse to retain without a hearing or a court order. The least that a state may allow a community spouse to retain is $26,076 (in 2021).

Example: If a couple has $100,000 in countable assets on the date the applicant enters a nursing home, he or she will be eligible for Medicaid once the couple’s assets have been reduced to a combined figure of $52,000 — $2,000 for the applicant and $50,000 for the community spouse.

All assets are counted against these limits unless the assets fall within the short list of “noncountable” assets. These include the following:

  • Personal possessions, such as clothing, furniture, and jewelry
  • One motor vehicle, regardless of value
  • The applicant’s principal residence, provided the applicant checks the box on the application indicating an intent to return home. This exemption in most cases is largely illusory for applicants, in that the applicant’s income must go to his or her cost of care and because at death, the home, being part of the applicant’s estate, will be subject to a Medicaid reimbursement claim. This exemption is subject to a $603,000 (in 2021) equity cap. But the house may be with no equity limit if the Medicaid applicant’s spouse or another dependent relative lives there.
  • Prepaid funeral plans and a small amount of life insurance
  • Assets that are considered “inaccessible” for one reason or another

Careful planning, whether in advance or in response to an unanticipated need for care, can help protect your estate while still meeting Medicaid’s strict asset limits. To learn more, contact the attorneys at Vasiliadis Pappas Associates.

Contact Vasiliadis Pappas Associates to learn more about your options and other measures to protect yourself.