Will Medicare penalize my mom if she pays for a new roof for her house?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 11, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a roofing company and I put a new roof on my mom's house and garage. I told my mom I don't want to be paid but she is very adamant about paying. Will my mom suffer any penalty from Medicare if she pays my company for the work?

Expert Answers

Your mother won't have her Medicare coverage affected in any way if she pays you for the roof. Someone's assets and expenditures have nothing to do with the right to Medicare coverage or on the amount paid for that coverage. Instead, Medicare coverage is based entirely on someone's work record (or that of a spouse) and Medicare taxes paid on income earned, and on reaching age 65 or having a long-term disability.

There's another medical coverage program called Medicaid, which is only for people with very low incomes and assets. This program is completely separate from Medicare, though some people are eligible for both. If your mother was now eligible for Medicaid, or applies for it in the future, Medicaid would look at the amount of her assets and also at any large expenditures within the five years prior to her application. However, the value of a house that she owns and lives in is always exempt from the Medicaid asset tests, and that includes any legitimate expenses on the house, such as getting a new roof. As long as the amount she pays you for the roof is a reasonable amount for the work done, it would have no effect on her Medicaid eligibility if she needs it in the future.