There is a significant chance you will need to qualify for Medicaid during your retirement years to cover the high cost of long-term care. If so, the Medicaid eligibility guidelines could prevent you from qualifying if you did not plan accordingly. To help make sure you are eligible if you need to qualify, a Loveland area Medicaid planning attorney at Zimmer Law Firm helps you understand Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Ohio.
Why Would I Need Medicaid When I Am a Senior?
If you never relied on Medicaid during your working years, you are undoubtedly wondering why you would need to plan for the need to qualify for Medicaid as a senior. The need for Medicaid may arise from the need for long-term care (LTC) at some point during your retirement years. With the average cost of LTC running over $100,000 a year nationwide (as of 2021), the average person cannot afford to cover that cost out of pocket. Although Medicare will likely cover most of your healthcare costs as a senior, it will not pay for LTC nor will most basic health insurance plans. Unless you purchased a separate LTC plan that may leave you faced with paying out of pocket unless you qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid does cover LTC expenses; however, the Medicaid eligibility guidelines for seniors could be problematic if you did not include Medicaid planning in your estate plan.
Medicaid Eligibility Guidelines for Seniors
Because Medicaid is considered a “needs-based” program, an applicant must demonstrate financial need to be approved. To do that, you must not have income or “countable resources” above the applicable threshold. The “countable resources” limit is very low in most states, including Ohio. An individual applicant cannot have countable resources worth more than $2,000 while a married couple (when both spouses are applying) is limited to $3,000 in countable assets. If your countable assets exceed the limit at the time you apply, your application will be denied, and you will have to “spend-down” your assets before applying again. Some assets are exempt, meaning they do not count toward your “countable resources,” including:
- Your home, up to an equity limit of $630,000 (as of 2022) if you are living in or planning to return to the home.
- A vehicle
- An irrevocable burial trust
- Household furnishings, furniture, clothing, jewelry, and other personal effects.
How Can Medicaid Planning Help Ensure Eligibility?
Planning is often necessary because transferring non-exempt assets at the last minute may not protect those assets. Medicaid now uses a five-year “look-back” period that prevents transfers of assets for less than fair market value for the 60-month period prior to an application for Medicaid. A review of your finances will be conducted when you apply for Medicaid and if any such transfers are uncovered, Medicaid will likely impose a waiting period. The length of the waiting period will depend on the value of the assets transferred and the average cost of LTC in your area. For example, if you transfer assets valued at $100,000 with an average monthly cost of LTC in Ohio of $8,213, you will incur a waiting period of 12 months ($100,000/$8,213). During that waiting period, you will be forced to cover the cost of LTC on your own. By incorporating Medicaid planning into your comprehensive estate now, before you need to qualify, you can protect any valuable non-exempt assets and keep your retirement nest egg intact.
Contact a Loveland Area Medicaid Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid eligibility for seniors in Ohio, contact an experienced Loveland Area Medicaid planning attorney at Zimmer Law Firm by calling 513-721-1513 to schedule your appointment today.