When Your Spouse is In the Nursing Home, Get Better Results with the Right Actions and Advice
When a spouse enters a nursing home covered by Medicaid, it can spur a flurry of financial questions, such as what happens to each spouse’s income and assets. Once your spouse is in a nursing home, don’t expect the Medicaid Office to tell you how to protect yourself. Here are tips you need to know to protect yourself, your spouse and your assets when you spouse is in a nursing home in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Tips for Getting Medicaid for Your Spouse
When your spouse is in a nursing home, it may feel like your world is crashing down. It’s a difficult time. Are you too late to protect your loved one, your family and your life savings? There is hope… and it’s not too late if you get the right advice. In fact, I’ve even written you an excused “Late Pass” so you won’t feel tardy!
Yes, many couples in this situation panic once they hear that Medicare stops paying. They’ve seen friends or family spend nearly all of their retirement savings on nursing home care, leaving the surviving spouse impoverished for the rest of his or her life.
And if you go to the Medicaid Office for help, you’ll likely hear that you need to spend half of your money (or more!) and apply again later after you’ve spent much of your hard-earned retirement assets.
Don’t let that happen to you! With the right help you can make sure your spouse gets the necessary nursing home care, without going broke. The key is to use a Federal and State rule in a way that we’ve helped clients for years. But don’t expect to hear about it from the Medicaid Office.
Community Spouse Resource Allowance in North Carolina
For couples with one spouse in a nursing home, your family’s future depends on these 4 letters: “CSRA.” That stands for the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. It’s the amount of money that a healthy spouse can keep and still qualify the ill spouse for Medicaid in the nursing home. The CSRA amount, which the healthy spouse can keep by law, is one-half of the countable assets up to a maximum number set each year. In 2015, it is about $119,000. For example, if the couple has $150,000, the healthy spouse can keep $75,000. If they have $250,000, the healthy spouse only can keep the $119,220.
When calculating CSRA you must know the “snapshot date,” which is the date that CSRA is calculated. It’s the last day of the month immediately prior to either spouse’s first “period of institutionalization” lasting 30 days or more. So, if Mary’s husband, Bob, goes into the hospital on June 15, and then goes to a nursing home for a combined stay of at least 30 days, their snapshot date is May 31. Their CSRA will be based on the assets Bob and Mary owned as of May 31, not when Bob applies later for Medicaid.
Even better, with the right guidance Mary can keep much more than CSRA. Don’t “spend down” like the Medicaid Office tells you to do. That’s because the healthy spouse can “convert” countable assets to a “stream of income” that would allow Mary to keep all of her income, and nearly all of the assets. For Mary in our example, that’s the difference between protecting nearly all of her and Bob’s retirement savings, or being broke the rest of her life. Clearly, take action or it can become TOO LATE!
What assets will we be able to retain in North Carolina?
- Will I lose all my income?
- No. Upon taking the proper steps you as the healthy spouse will not lose all of your income, including Social Security. In North Carolina, the healthy spouse is allowed to retain a portion of their assets to protect them from impoverishment as their partner receives care. A community spouse may keep up to $123,600 worth of assets free from Medicaid’s consideration to serve as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).
- Will I lose the income of my spouse upon them being admitted into a nursing home?
- In short, the institutionalized spouse generally loses most of their income when they enter a nursing home that is paid for by Medicaid, although they can keep a small portion of their monthly income as a Personal Needs Allowance (PNA). You, as the healthy spouse, may be able to retain some of that income and file that you need the extra income to survive if yours is not sufficient. Speak to a lawyer in North Carolina to see if you qualify. The federal government has also written a law known as the Spousal Impoverishment Law to ensure that the healthy spouse does not go broke and is not left without a place to live when their spouse enters a nursing home.
- Will I lose my house?
- If you as the healthy spouse continues to live in your home, then no you will not lose it. Your house is known as a non-countable asset for Medicaid eligibility and is therefore exempt. Other exempt items include personal effects, a vehicle, pre-paid funerals, burial plots, and life insurance policies under a certain value.
- Will we lose our stocks/savings/IRA/401k accounts?
- Depending on the combined value of your assets, you may not be able to keep all of these accounts. If the value is less than the allowable limit of assets you are allowed to keep free from Medicaid’s consideration, you may be allowed to retain your accounts. Speak to a lawyer to discuss your specific situation.
Protect Your Assets with a Medicaid Lawyer in Greensboro, North Carolina
Our Greensboro Medicaid lawyers are able to help with a wide variety of tasks, such as the application paperwork, financial guidance, and making sure you remain protected and retain as much income as you can. Naturally it’s best to plan ahead. But when a nursing home crisis hits your family, getting the right guidance is like having a “Late Pass” for protecting you and your family. Speak to one of our lawyers today.