Medicaid Planning for Eldercare: What to Know & Do Before You Apply

Page Reviewed / Updated - Jun. 2015

For those considering Medicaid as a payment option for aging care, it is important to recognize that planning and preparing prior to application is a critical part of the process.  Medicaid eligibility is extremely complicated and many potentially qualified applicants are rejected on technicalities, oversights or for having unwittingly committed financial transactions that violated Medicaid's strict guidelines.  The problem is further complicated for the many individuals who are applying for Medicaid on behalf of their parents or other loved ones and don't know what past financial transactions may have occurred.

Whether one is going to engage in the Medicaid planning process themselves or they are going to seek outside assistance, knowing where the applicant stands with regards to their eligibility is the critical first step which should be taken prior to application.   One can read Medicaid's general eligibility criteria here.   Alternatively, one can consult with a Medicaid planning professional to better understand Medicaid rules in their specific state. 

Follows are a series of articles about Medicaid planning.  Some of these are written for individuals who intend to self-plan and others are intended to help those who have not yet made the self-planning vs. professional assistance decision.

Pros & Cons of Working with a Medicaid Planning Professional - Explores the benefits and drawbacks to working with a Medicaid planner, what they cost, what to expect in the process and if no cost alternatives exist.

Using Irrevocable Funeral Trusts to Meet the Asset Limit - Many applicants are just slightly over the Medicaid asset limit and are therefore unqualified.  Irrevocable funeral trusts offer a way to lower one's countable assets to meet the Medicaid eligibility limit at the same time planning for one's final expenses.

Using Qualified Income Trusts to Meet the Income Limit - In most states Medicaid is an all-or-nothing benefit.  If you are eligible you receive full benefits and if not, you receive nothing.  A qualified income trust offers a way to meet the income eligibility limit.  A small reduction in income can equal a very large increase in benefits. 

Medicaid vs. Veterans Aid & Attendance - Some veterans have the potential to be eligible for both Medicaid and the VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefit.  This article explores the reality of duel eligibility, the pros and cons of each program and advises on who should and when to pursue which program. 

Medicaid State-to-State Transfer Rules - For families caring for an aging loved one in another state, this is a common question as often they want to move their loved one closer.  Here we explore the realities of transferring or Medicaid from one state to another and the best approach for doing so. 

Life Care Agreements – A strategy used by families to employ a family member as a caregiver while concurrently spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid.

This section will be updated continuously with new articles related to Medicaid Planning.  Please tell us your ideas for useful articles for this section.