Medicaid Eligibility- What You Can and Can’t Keep

In order to begin to understand Medicaid eligibility, you first need to understand how Medicaid will treat your assets.

When you apply for Medicaid benefits, your assets are placed into two categories: “exempt” and “non-exempt” assets. “Exempt” assets are those that the applicant is permitted to retain and still become eligible for Medicaid.  However, “non-exempt” assets will be counted as available to you and they will have to be “spent down,” or otherwise legally protected, before you will qualify for Medicaid.

In most instances the following assets are exempt:
  • Your home, as long as it is the principal place of residence for the applicant, his or her spouse, or a dependent child;
  • Household and personal belongings, such as furniture and appliances, clothing and personal effects, wedding and/or engagements rings
  • One automobile per household;
  •  Tools of a trade or occupation, and farm supplies, livestock and similar items in some restricted instances;
  • Term life insurance policies and group policies that have no cash surrender value;
  • A prepaid funeral and burial plan, if irrevocable;
  • A very limited amount of otherwise non-exempt assets, which most people choose to keep as money in a bank account. The applicant is allowed to keep resources up to a cash value of not greater than $2,000 in Virginia ($3,000 for a married couple where both spouses are applying for Medicaid). 
Non-exempt “countable” assets that will be counted against you in determining eligibility for Medicaid include just about everything else that you own, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, stocks, mutual funds, boats, recreational vehicles, and more. While there are some minor exceptions to these rules, for the most part, all money and property, as well as any item that can be valued and turned into cash, is a countable asset.
Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting “non-exempt” assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Do you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care? Or are you simply looking to plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future? Call The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firms of Evan H. Farr, P.C. today at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a consultation.
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.