If you are married there is a very good chance that either you and/or your spouse will need long-term care at some point during your “golden years.” When that time comes you will need to figure out how you plan to pay for that care. With an average annual cost of over $75,000 and an average length of stay of 2.5 years, paying for long-term care can rapidly deplete a life savings if you are forced to pay out of pocket. Medicaid may be able to help; however, you must first be found eligible for benefits. You may also be wondering “ How does Medicaid apply to a married couple? ”
Medicaid is a federally funded, but state administered, program that provides healthcare benefits to low income families and individuals as well as the aged and disabled. To qualify for Medicaid you must have both income and assets below the program limits. If you are married when you apply your spouse’s assets and income will be considered along with yours when making an eligibility determination. The Medicaid asset and income limits are typically very low. A married couple, for example, is usually only allowed to have combined assets valued at less than $3,000.
If your spouse needs long-term care you may also be wondering what happens to your joint assets and income while he or she is living is living in a long-term care facility. Fortunately, the Medicaid spousal impoverishment rules prevent you from losing access to all assets and income just because your spouse needs help paying for long-term care. The spousal impoverishment provisions allow you to retain the use of some assets and, in some cases, allow you to retain a portion of your spouse’s income each month if your income is insufficient to survive on each month. The exact amount of your spouse’s income you will be allowed to keep each month will depend on a number of factors, including how much you earn on your own.
The best way to ensure that your assets ad income are protected and that you will qualify for Medicaid benefits when you need them is to include Mediciad planning in your overall estate plan early on in your life.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning please be sure to contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.