Will my mother lose her Medicaid benefits for Memory Care facility?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Olnat asked...

My father lives at his home and his wife is in Memory Care facility with Medicaid benefits. Can he rent his home and move into an apartment without losing the Medicaid benefits for his wife?

Expert Answers

There are two ways that your father's move to an apartment might cause a problem for his wife's Medicaid eligibility. The first has to do with the house as an asset. When Medicaid decides on someone's eligibility, they look at the total amount of assets a person has, with eligibility only for people with very low assets of no more than a few thousand dollars. However, if either spouse lives in a home that they jointly own, the house is not usually counted as an asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes. That's probably why, so far, your father's wife has been eligible for Medicaid despite ownership of the house. If your father moves out of the house, however, then Medicaid might consider the house as an income property, which is a counted asset, rather than as the residence of your father and his wife. If so, the value of the house would likely make your father's wife ineligible for Medicaid.

It is a different situation if title to the house is in your father's name individually, and his wife has no ownership interest in it because your father owned it before he married her. In that case, no part of the value of the house might be considered as his wife's asset, meaning that the value of the house would not affect her Medicaid eligibility regardless of whether or not your father continues to live in it.

Even if Medicaid does not consider the value of the house as a countable asset in determining your father's wife's eligibility, however, the income your father receives from renting the house might affect her eligibility. In most states, the joint income of a couple is considered when determining Medicaid eligibility. Any rent your father gets for the house would normally be considered as part of their joint income, and if it is a substantial amount above what he pays in rent for a new place, that income might affect his wife's eligibility.

Before your father makes a move, he should take the exact facts and figures involved -- who actually owns the house, plus the rent he would receive for it and the cost of his new apartment -- and set up a meeting with his wife's Medicaid eligibility worker. They can then go over the situation and your father can get an advance opinion from Medicaid about what such a change would do to his wife's Medicaid eligibility.