If I buy a co-op but put it in my mother's name, will that affect her Medicaid eligibility?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My Mom has low income Medicaid in NY. I'd like to purchase a co-op under her name, so she can live there legally without trouble from the co-op board. Now if she has an apt under her name, would that create a problem in her receiving Medicaid and food stamps? What about her filing tax returns?

Expert Answer

If your mother actually lives in the co-op, putting it in her name -- making her the owner -- should not directly affect her eligibility for Medicaid or any other government assistance program. Medicaid is only for people with low income and very few assets, but when looking at a person's assets with regard to eligibility, Medicaid does NOT count the value of a home the person lives in. So, as long as your mother actually lives there, ownership of the co-op will not itself present any problem. If she moves out at some point, however, but continues to own the property, the value of the co-op would then constitute a countable asset as far as Medicaid is concerned and would likely disqualify her for benefits.

There's something else to think about with regard to buying the co-op in your mother's name. That is, most co-ops have regular monthly fees that must be paid, not to mention property taxes, utilities, etc. If you pay all those monthly bills yourself, those amounts might be considered by Medicaid as support or "income" to your mother. If the amounts are substantial, they might put her Medicaid eligibility at risk. So, find out ahead of time what the monthly costs would be, then have your mother contact her local Medicaid case worker to find out if you paying those amounts would put her Medicaid eligibility in jeopardy.