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If I give away assets, do I have to wait until I go into the nursing home?

You must disclose any gifts, or other uncompensated transfers, that you made within 60 months of applying for Medicaid.  In general, when you make a gift it will cause you to be disqualified from receiving Medicaid for a period of time.  The number of months of ineligibility is calculated by dividing the amount of the gift by the amount that Medicaid will pay for a month of nursing home care.  The beginning of the penalty period coincides with the date on which you are residing in a nursing home and, except for the gift, are otherwise qualified to file a Medicaid application.  You will not be penalized for any gifts, no matter how large, that were made more than 60 months prior to applying for Medicaid.