Is there a minimum amount for assets that Medicaid 5 year look back exempts?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

For transfers of assets, what minimum does Medicaid 5 year look back exempt? I have been told they look at anything over $1000.

Expert Answers

A very important program for many seniors is Medicaid coverage of long-term nursing home costs. In deciding on eligibility for nursing home coverage, Medicaid looks carefully at the applicant's financial records, including current income and assets and any funds spent or property transferred out of the applicant's name within the previous five years. Any amount that Medicaid determines was given away or transferred to another for less than fair value may be considered by Medicaid as still belonging to the applicant. This could disqualify the applicant for Medicaid coverage for many months, the length of time calculated using the amount transferred and the average cost of nursing home care in the applicant's home state.The purpose of this rule is to prevent people with assets from giving them away and then having the government pay for their long-term care out of funds specially allocated for people who are poor.

The 5-year "look-back" rules don't necessarily apply to every gift. Small gifts – to grandchildren, for example – are not normally considered in this calcultion. Medicaid certainly looks at any transaction larger than $1,000, but there is no "minimum amount" rule preventing it from looking at smaller gifts or transactions. This is especially true when there appears to be a pattern of smaller transactions which total up to large amounts.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

This is another related question for Attorney Joseph Matthews: My mother, currently in a nursing home, will need to apply for Medicaid (Massachusetts Health) soon. For decades, she has been contributing several hundred dollars a month to her mentally disabled adult son who lives out of state. He is homeless, unknown address, and depends on her support for food and necessary living expenses. He lacks the capacity or will to apply for SSI or other government programs. Essentially, he is her dependent, but she has not claimed him on her tax returns since he left home. Will Medicaid make it impossible for her to continue this modest support of her son? It would be a catastrophe for him. Given that this is very long-standing necessary support of a disabled child, could Medicaid exempt the amount she leaves for him in a bank account each month?