Medicaid planning for a spouse requires special attention. While the concept of spending down to become eligible for Medicaid is important to understand, with married couples, any spend-down efforts should be taken only after the unhealthy spouse moves to a nursing home where this would affect the “community” spouse’s resource allowance. (the community spouse is the one still living in the community, not at a nursing facility).
Medicaid has some special protections for the spouses of Medicaid applicants to ensure that the spouses have the minimum support needed to continue to live at home or outside of a nursing facility while their husband or wife is receiving long-term care benefits in a facility.
Spousal Protections in Medicaid Planning
If the Medicaid applicant is married, the countable assets of both the community spouse and the spouse living in the nursing facility are totaled as of the effective date of the Medicaid application. Sometimes this is referred to as the “snapshot” date because Medicaid is taking a picture of the couple’s assets as of this date.
To be eligible for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in assets. Typically, the community spouse is entitled to retain half of the couple’s total “countable” assets up to a maximum of $120,900 in Florida. This Community Spouse Resource Allowance is the most that Florida will allow a community spouse to keep without a hearing or a court order.
As an illustration, if a couple had $100,000 in countable assets on the snapshot date, the community spouse could keep the entire amount, rather than just half.
Income of the Community Spouse
The community spouse’s income isn’t counted in determining the Medicaid applicant’s eligibility… just the income of the applicant. As a result, if the community spouse is still working, he or she won’t have to contribute to the cost of caring for her spouse in a nursing home if he’s covered by Medicaid.
However, in some states if the community spouse’s income exceeds a certain threshold, he or she must make a monetary contribution towards the cost of the institutionalized spouse’s care. The community spouse’s income isn’t considered in determining eligibility, but there’s a subsequent contribution requirement.
If you have questions about Florida Medicaid, Attorney Frazier is a skilled Medicaid planning (with over 2,000 cases completed that helped preserve their family’s savings), estate planning and elder law practitioner. Please contact Attorney Frazier for a free telephone consultation at 727-586-3306 extension 104. If you prefer click here now to send in a contact form and we will call you.