The Elrod Firm


Do We Have To Be Broke To Get Help?

Justin, My mother is in a nursing home, and my father is living with me in my home. We recently spoke with the nursing home’s business office about Medicaid benefits to help with my mother’s cost of care. The impression we got is that they’d have to be essentially broke to get any help. How is my father supposed to take care of his own business if all their assets must be used up on my mother’s nursing home bills before she can get any financial assistance? – Debra

Debra, Thank you for writing. That’s a very common question. The short answer is that Medicaid rules include some surprisingly generous spousal protections for a situation like this. You just have to know how to use them!

While it’s true that a single person must be almost broke to file for Medicaid (although I have some strategies to help with that situation, too), the rules for a married couple are very different. Medicaid rules allow your father to protect his home (if they still own one), a vehicle, and around half of all their other assets owned as of the date your mother entered care (subject to some upper and lower limits that might not apply to you). In other words, your father will have to do some planning and legal work to get your mother qualified for Medicaid, but if he does it right, he won’t have to deplete all their assets like you might have thought.

And one more thing—I don’t want to leave you with the impression that he must actually spend half of their assets on nursing home care to take advantage of this rule. We have helped clients come up with far more beneficial strategies than that to take advantage of these spousal protection rules. To learn more, and better yet to set up a no-charge strategy session to talk about this, visit our website at

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