Will the houses affect their Medicaid eligibility?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 17, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My parents need assisted living. They own two homes, one that they live in and one that they rent out, total value about $85,000, and they charge $300/month rent for the rental home. They live in Missouri but we are thinking of moving them to an assisted living place that accepts Medicaid (HCBS waiver).

My dad is also a veteran and it sounds like he would qualify for the veterans benefit but three problems: They need assisted living now and it takes a long time, I understand, to be approved, and even if they received almost $2000/month, that plus their social security would still not be enough to cover their assisted living. Also, the assisted living place we are considering says they have experience with processing Medicaid, but they don't deal with veterans benefit. So is it better to go with Medicaid and not worry about the VA benefit, since it wouldn't be enough to cover assisted living anyway? Can you use both?

We saw an elderlaw attorney maybe prematurely, or maybe we didn't stress enough that we were going to need to get them into assisted living right away. He set up a revocable trust which included the two houses. Now I am wondering if that is going to complicate things since they are going to need to apply for Medicaid.

My parents have about $7000 in their checking account (which was a shock to us - they worry about money so much that we thought they were living from social security check to social security check). The elderlaw attorney told us that they can spend down this money for anything they need, even furniture for their assisted living apartment. I want to make sure this is true and do they need to spend this money before they move in/apply for Medicaid?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Medicaid law differs significantly from state to state and the Medicaid law in most states does not cover assisted living costs. I urge you to contact an experienced elder law attorney. You can find one in your area by going to the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Your father may well be eligible for Veterans Aid and Assistance Benefits. Even if the facility to which he may be going does not have experience with the VA, this should not pose any problem with him obtaining benefits.

The revocable trust will not help in regard to protecting assets from Medicaid. The best thing you could do is consult an experienced elder lawyer in your state.

Community Answers

Rrc answered...

I would like to suggest that you also check with the V.A as they have income guidlines for the program. I looked into it. Forget what the limit is but you are not allowed to have too much assets. Best to check with them.

Jeneration answered...

My father is a WWII veteran and he was ineligible for benefits because his income is too high - from pension and SS - even though he has virtually nothing but the home they've owned for 60 yrs which they do not count. The law basically stinks because you can have something like up to $80K in savings (he has like $800) but it is so highly based on monthly income. I have been sole care-taker for he and my mom for nearly 2 yrs now since he had a serious fall leaving him with a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. He is partial invalid meaning he needs pretty much total assistance with everything (which I lovingly provide). My mom is 92 and still mobile, so if they were to go to any kind of facility they would not be able to be together. Thanks for letting me vent! and best of luck with your situation. Bless you :)