Too many couples get bad advice from the Medicaid office and spend much more than needed. It’s not the job of the Medicaid office to help you to protect your retirement savings! Experienced elder law attorney Dennis Toman explains how things can turn out much better, with the right legal help.
If your spouse is in the nursing home now, it’s important to act quickly, because, frankly what the nursing home or Medicaid will say is spend half of what you’ve got, come back and apply later. Many times, that means that the healthy spouse who’s living at home is not going to have enough to live on with the other spouse in the nursing home if they spend that half of the assets.
There are strategies that we help families with when there’s a married couple, one spouse is in the nursing home, and the other spouse at home, where we can protect all of the assets.
We go through a process called “Division of Assets.” The result is that the spouse who’s living at home is going to keep over a $100,000 of countable assets. That’s called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. (1) And in addition, they’re going to be able to annuitize other assets, other cash, other investments, and be able to protect those as well. And so, when we’ve got a married couple – one spouse in a nursing home, one spouse living at home, don’t let anybody tell you that you have to spend half of the assets. Sometimes, somebody will even say you have to spend it all that two thousand dollars, and that’s just not right.
Get the right help, get the right advice, and things will turn out a whole lot better.
(1) Please note: the Community Spouse Resource Allowance is a Medicaid rule, which under North Carolina Medicaid law allows the spouse at home to 1/2 of the couple’s countable assets up to approximately $119,000. This number is as of 2016, and it increases over time. In a situation where the couple has $200,000 of countable assets, plus a house, Medicaid allow the community spouse could keep $100,000 of countable assets. The house is a noncountable asset because he or she is living there. The other $100,000 of assets are what Medicaid often will tell the couple to spend, leaving the healthy spouse with less to live on. But with the right help from an experienced elder law attorney, the community spouse can keep nearly all of the assets, and all of his or her income. The income of the institutionalized spouse will need to be paid to the nursing home, with some exceptions that your elder law attorney can help you with to better protect the spouse at home.