Do my parents need to get divorced to qualify for Medicaid?

1 answer | Last updated: Dec 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad suffered a stroke that will require long-term rehabilitation in a nursing home. He's going to apply for Medicaid to help with the costs, but he may be ineligible because my parents still have their life savings in the bank. A friend told them that if they were to divorce, he might be able to qualify for Medicaid. Should my parents think about getting a divorce so my dad can qualify for Medicaid -- or is this some kind of urban legend?

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...
Talk with an Elder Law Attorney who will know your state's law. In California, the community spouse will be able to retain certain assets and income while the spouse in a skilled nursing home will receive the entitled benefits. Check on how far a "look back" by the state is done (maybe at least 3-5 years?); an Elder Law attorney (not an Estate Planner) will be the best source to get information about this topic. I am a retired Gerontological Nurse Practitioner who speaks with adult children who want to avoid and anticipate elder care issues.