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

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 alone or they are going to seek outside assistance, knowing where the applicant stands with regards to their eligibility is the critical first step that 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, as they differ from state to state.

Follows are a series of articles about Medicaid planning. Some of these are written for individuals who intend to self-plan, while 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, while 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 dual eligibility, the pros and cons of each program, and advises on who should pursue which program and when to pursue it. 

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 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.

Joint Assets & Medicaid – Explores how a married couples’ assets are counted, which assets are included, and asset limits. Strategies to become eligible for Medicaid, while still preserving assets are also covered.

Retroactive Medicaid – Medicaid coverage can date back three months prior to the month an applicant applies for Medicaid. How the coverage period is determined, the benefits of retroactive Medicaid, the services that are covered, and the application process are all explored.

Caregiver Child Exemption – A strategy used to transfer one’s home to their child without penalty from Medicaid. In this scenario, an adult child moves into the home of an aging parent and provides care in exchange for the transfer of the home.

Look-Back Period – This is a period of time in which Medicaid looks back at all financial transactions to ensure an applicant has not given assets away in order to qualify for Medicaid. Penalties, exceptions, and strategies to avoid violating the look-back period are included in this article.

Spend Down - For persons with too much monthly income or too many assets to be eligible, they must "spend-down" to become eligible.  Read about strategies, exempt assets and other details.



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