How do I qualify for Medicaid?
To qualify for Medicaid, you must pass two economic tests. The first is an income test. If you enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid, you are required to contribute all of your income to the cost of care, except for a small amount that you are permitted to keep for personal needs. Medicaid then pays the balance. If your income is greater than the cost of your care, you pay everything. Medicaid pays nothing.
If you are not in a nursing home, income eligibility rules are much more complicated. You will need a lawyer with expertise in this technical area of law to guide you through this minefield.
If you have a spouse living at home (known as the “community spouse” or “in-home spouse”), the income test is handled differently. The spouse at home is allowed to keep all of his or her own income and is not required to contribute to the cost of care. If your spouse has little or no income, a special rule applies that allows your spouse to keep some of the income to pay for your spouse’s living expenses.
The second economic test relates to your assets. The government will screen your assets to determine if they are “exempt” or “non-exempt”. Owning an exempt asset will not disqualify you from receiving Medicaid, but owning more than the permitted amount of non-exempt assets will disqualify you. The rules concerning exempt assets are different depending upon whether or not you are married.