Spending Down for Medicaid Eligibility
If you are in a nursing home, you have to get your countable assets down to $2,000 (in most states) and your spouse has to get her countable assets down to $120, 900 (in 2017) in order for Medicaid to begin picking up your cost of care. While there’s a penalty for giving savings away, there’s no limit on how applicants for Medicaid and their spouses may spend their money. You may protect savings by spending them on any items or services that benefit you or your spouse. These may include:
- paying off a mortgage or other loan;
- making repairs to a home;
- replacing an old automobile;
- updating home furnishings;
- paying for more care at home;
- buying a new home; or
- taking a vacation (although we have yet to see a community spouse spend down funds for this purpose).
Note that some states have a minimum community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) below $120,900. If that’s the case in your state, it can be important that any spend-down steps be taken only after the unhealthy spouse moves to a nursing home. You can check the CSRA in your state here.