Question: My husband and I live in Georgia. He is 67 years old and suffers from a disabling neurological disorder. He receives $450 a month from his retirement pension and $1,500 a month in Social Security retirement benefits. We own a home worth $250,000, which is paid for. We have one car, a 2007 Lincoln Continental. My husband has an IRA worth $350,000, and a term life insurance policy worth $50,000. I think my husband will need nursing home care in the next couple of years. I am healthy right now, but I cannot continue to be his full time care giver. We are afraid we will lose everything before he qualifies for Medicaid. What are your suggestions?
Answer: Your situation is not uncommon, and actually, you are in pretty good shape financially for your husband to transition into a long term healthcare or nursing home facility. In order for your husband to qualify for Medicaid he must be 65 years or older, and in his case, disabled. He must have a monthly income of no more than $2,022, which he does at $1,950. Another factor is the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), which for 2011 is limited to $109,560. Since your principal residence, your car, your husband’s IRA, and his term life insurance policy are all exempt resources, your husband should qualify for Medicaid. However, allow me to add that if the principal residence is held in Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivor, you and your husband should consider placing it in your name in Fee Simple. There is no penalty on spousal gifts, and when your husband passes, you will not have to worry about Medicaid’s Estate Recovery seeking his share of the property as reimbursement for benefits provided.
Dennis Duncan, Attorney at Law
The Law Offices of Dennis L. Duncan, P.C.
Macon, Georgia 31210