Whether you are aware of it or not, there is a very good chance that you (and/or your spouse if you are married) will need to qualify for Medicaid benefits at some point during your “Golden Years”. Qualifying for those benefits can be tricky, particularly for older individuals because of the assets they have acquired over a lifetime of working and saving. Eligibility for Medicaid is based, in part, on an applicant’s income and “available assets”. If either exceed the program limits you will be denied benefits or required to “spend-down” your assets before Medicaid will find you eligible. Applicants typically have a number of questions and concerns when they realize the need for Medicaid benefits. For example, is your home an available asset for Medicaid eligibility in Missouri?
At age 65 you stand about a 50-50 chance of going on to need long-term care during your lifetime; however, those odds increase dramatically as you continue to age. If you are married, your spouse stands the same chance of needing long-term care. With an average yearly cost of over $75,000 and an average length of stay of 2.5 years, the costs associated with long-term care can quickly diminish your life savings. Don’t count on Medicare to help either because Medicare only pays for long-term care under very narrow circumstances and then only for 100 days. Furthermore, unless you specifically included a long-term care rider in your private health insurance policy it is also unlikely to cover any expenses related to long-term care. For most retirees this leaves Medicaid as the only available option.
Medicaid does cover long-term care costs; however, you must first be approved for benefits. Along with your income, Medicaid will look at your available assets or resources. If the value of those assets exceeds the (very low) program limit of $2,000 you will be forced to “spend-down” your resources before Medicaid will help. In essence, Medicaid expects you to use all of your own resources before they will help. Fortunately, some assets are considered exempt, meaning they are not considered when determining the value of your “available assets.” Your home is one of those exempt assets. In Missouri, your home is exempt, regardless of the value of the property, as long as it is the principal place of residence for the applicant, his or her spouse, or a dependent child.
To find out what other assets are considered exempt for Medicaid eligibility purposes, consult with an experienced Medicaid planning attorney. Contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment to get started today.