If a CD has my name and social security number, and my mother's name, will Medicaid consider the CD hers?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a CD which states my name or my mothers name. It has my SS#. We are now looking into medicaid for her. Will they consider this hers.

Expert Answer

When Medicaid decides whether an applicant is eligible for benefits, it looks at all the applicant's assets to determine whether those assets are under the state Medicaid program's limits. In your mother's case, the question is whether some or all of the value of the CD will be counted as her asset. There are three possible outcomes.

(1) Medicaid might consider the entire value of the CD as belonging to your mother, and would count the entire amount as part of her assets. If the "you or her" terms of the CD -- her joint ownership of it with you, as interpreted under your state's laws -- means that she could cash in the full amount for herself and keep it all, then Medicaid might consider the full amount to be her asset.

(2) Medicaid might consider you joint owners, with each of you entitled to half of the CD. In that case, Medicaid would count half the CD's value as your mother's asset.

(3) Medicaid might not consider the CD at all as your mother's asset if you can show that she is only an alternate or secondary payee, who is entitled to the proceeds of the CD only if you die before she does.

In order to decide which of these three possibilities is the right one, Medicaid is supposed to look at who this money truly belongs to. So, the fact that only your Social Security number is on the account is one factor that tends to show that the money is yours not your mother's. Also, if you can get a letter from the bank stating that under the terms of the CD, you are entitled to the money and that your mother could not cash it in on her own, that would also tend to show that the money is not hers. On the other hand, if the bank says that either one of you could cash in the CD, then Medicaid might decide that half the money is her asset.

Finally, Medicaid might consider where the money originally came from and whom it was intended for. If the money came from you, or was given only to you, then that tends to show that the money belongs fully to you. On the other hand, if the money came from your mother originally, that tends to show that she shares the account with you. The same thing is true if the money was given to both of you from a third party, or if you both together put money into the account.