Elder Law Today
The Latest Strategies for Medicaid Planning & Division of AssetsConnecticut Elder & Disability Law FirmTM

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Here’s a sample issue of Elder Law Today…

The Basics of Medicaid
"What You Can and Cannot Keep"

In order to understand Medicaid qualification, you first need to know how Medicaid treats your assets.

Basically, Medicaid breaks your assets down into two separate categories. The first are those assets which are exempt and the second are those assets which are non-exempt or countable.

Exempt assets are those which Medicaid will not take into account (at least for the time being). While the laws in Connecticut differ in some respects, generally the following assets are exempt:

  • The home, no matter its value. The home must be the principal place of residence. The nursing home resident may be required to show some "intent to return home," even if this never actually takes place.
  • Household and personal belongings, such as furniture, appliances, jewelry and clothing.
  • One vehicle, there may be some limitation on value.
  • Prepaid funeral plans and burial plots.
  • Cash value of life insurance policies, as long as the face value of all policies added together does not exceed $1,500. If it does exceed $1,500 in total face amount, then the cash value in these policies is countable. Also, term life insurance is exempt.
  • Cash (e.g. a small checking or savings account) not to exceed $1,600 in Connecticut.
  • These are basically the assets which Medicaid will ignore, at least for now. Keep in mind, however, that the estate recovery unit may come back to recoup payments made to a Medicaid recipient after the death of the recipient and the recipient's spouse if they are married.

All other assets which are not exempt (i.e. the ones not listed earlier) are countable. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, IRAs, pensions, second cars and so on. While there are some minor exceptions to these rules, for the most part, all money and property, as well as any item that can be valued and turned into cash is a countable asset, unless it is one of those listed earlier as exempt.

While the Medicaid rules themselves are complicated and somewhat tricky, for a single person it's safe to say that you will qualify for Medicaid so long as you have only exempt assets plus a small amount of cash, (i.e. $1,600 in Connecticut).

For a married couple the community spouse (i.e. the one not needing nursing home care) can generally keep one-half of the assets up to a maximum of just under $90,660. Of course, this does not mean there are not things which can be done to protect assets beyond these levels.  Instead, this issue of Elder Law Today is designed to review the basics in a way which a caseworker from Department of Social Services in Connecticut.

In our past issues we have covered ways that single persons can often protect 50% or even more of their assets (see e.g. Elder Law Today 10/23/98) and married couples can often protect all of their assets (Elder Law Today 7/23/98). If you would like back copies of any of these issues, please give us a call.

Future issues will be dealing with related topics covering additional Medicaid planning strategies as well as nursing home selection and care issues.

In Service Training Available:

Connecticut Elder & Disability Law Firm offers in-service training on topics related to:

  • Division of Assets
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Conservatorship 
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Other Elder Law Issues

Elder Law Today is written by Daniel O. Tully, Attorney at Law. This newsletter is published as a service of Connecticut Elder & Disability Law Firm 120 Laurel Street Bristol, Connecticut 06010. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, contact us to consult a qualified attorney.

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Kilbourne & Tully, P.C.

Dean B. Kilbourne      Daniel O. Tully      Richard A. Goodine, Jr.

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