Is the Home Protected from Medicaid?

Justin, I am an aging senior and I’m beginning to educate myself more on options for funding my future Long-Term Care and Medicaid. I have read that, when assessing financial eligibility, Medicaid will disregard the value of an applicant’s home. Does this mean that the home is protected from Medicaid? – Lois

Lois, Thank you for submitting your question. When assessing an applicant’s financial eligibility for Medicaid, the value of the home, and all of the touching acreage and buildings, up to approximately $500,000, will be disregarded as a non-countable resource. This means that an applicant may continue to own their home and qualify for Medicaid.

It is always important to speak with an Elder Law Attorney about creating a plan to protect the home because problems can arise at the death of the Medicaid recipient. Medicaid Estate Recovery rules provide that the State can place a lien on the home upon the death of the Medicaid recipient, if the home becomes a part of the recipient’s estate at their death.

This means that the State can recover the cost of the benefits provided to a recipient upon his or her death at the sale of the home. One reading this might think that they should gift the home to their loved-ones in order to avoid Estate Recovery but that is oftentimes more difficult than it seems.

At application, Medicaid assesses all gifts, and transfers made for less than fair market value, made within the last sixty months. Any gifts made within that sixty month look-back can cause the client to be ineligible. An Elder Law Attorney can work within these rules, however, to ensure that you have a plan to protect your home from any Medicaid problems.