If Mom moves in with us will her Medicaid be affected?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom is currently disabled and on Medicare and Alabama Medicaid. She can no longer live alone and we are considering having her move in with us. She will pay us the same rent she currently pays ($150). Will she be able to keep her Medicaid and Food Stamp benefits or will we be required to submit our income?

Expert Answer

Your mother moving in with you should not affect her Medicaid eligibility. And her living with you will not mean that Medicaid can consider your income and assets in deciding your mother's eligibility. What Medicaid can consider, however, and what you need to be aware of, is the value of things you regularly provide to your mother -- these amounts Medicaid could consider as "income" to your mother. So, for example, if you provided her with rent-free accommodations, Medicaid could consider the reasonable value of the housing you provide her. They would do that by determining what you could charge on the open market to rent the same room or rooms to a stranger. If the $150 your mother will pay you in rent is a reasonable amount -- you only need to show that it's reasonable, not that it's the maximum you could possibly get -- for the space you'll be giving her, then Medicaid will not consider the living arrangement as providing the equivalent of "income" to your mother.

You also need to be careful about how much you regularly provide your mother in the way of food, utilities, transportation and other things that people normally have to pay for and that she would otherwise have to pay for herself. If you regularly pay for all her daily living needs other than rent, Medicaid could consider those payments as "income" to your mother. The way to avoid this is to have your mother regularly buy food herself, or contribute to the household food bills, as well as to pay a portion of utility bills. As long as you take the simple precaution of helping your mother keep simple records of the regular amounts she spends on herself for these daily needs, living with you should have no impact on her Medicaid eligibility. (By the way, there's no need to keep a record of every single thing you or she buys or spends -- just records of the regular expenses she pays for.)