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Protect The SpouseIn Medicaid terminology, the spouse in the nursing home is called the “Institutionalized Spouse,” and the spouse staying at home is called the “Community Spouse.” A married couples’ assets are all countable. It does not matter if all the assets are held jointly, all in the Institutionalized Spouse’s name or all in the Community Spouse’ s name. When the Institutionalized Spouse goes into the nursing home, the Institutionalized Spouse is limited to countable assets in the amount of $2,000 and gross income in the amount of $2,250 per month in the year 2018 in order to qualify for Medicaid. The Medicaid laws, regulations, interpretations and applications are so complicated thereafter that the typical lay person is unable to determine what to do. Most people think their only option is to spend their life savings before they will be eligible to obtain Medicaid. However, if these same people were to avail themselves of counsel from attorneys who work in this area, they would find that it may be possible to save tens of thousands of dollars by having their case carefully guided through the Medicaid system. Although the basic rules allow a Community Spouse to protect a certain amount of countable resources, this is, in many cases, a fraction of what could have been preserved for the Community Spouse or the family if proper planning strategies are followed. A knowledgeable attorney frequently can have the protected resource amount for the Community Spouse increased to a level that would be far above what the lay person would obtain simply because the lay person does not know the laws and how to protect his or her rights to avoid spousal impoverishment. There are several dozen money saving planning strategies (or “loopholes”) that must be considered. No Medicaid advice is appropriate until all of the relevant facts are known about the couple including:•Age, medical condition, mental condition, lifestyle, prognosis, and desires of each spouse.
- All of the couple’s assets, ownership of each asset, values and tax cost basis. •All income sources, amounts and survivorship rights are known.
- Review of last 3 years income tax returns.
- Full understanding of each spouse’s relatives.
- Potential Veteran Benefits and much more.