Can I Divorce My Husband So He Can Get Medicaid Coverage of His Nursing Home Care?
I would like to try and provide proper care for my spouse. My question is: Is there anything in Medicaid criteria that would prevent me from divorcing my spouse so that he can qualify for Medicaid when the time comes that he needs more assistance than I am physically able to provide, i.e. nursing home care or in-home care within the Medicaid network? I still love him; this is not a case of terminating the marriage other than for administrative purposes. Because of my financial status I/we will never qualify for Medicaid assistance. I am 90 years old and he is 88.
Yes, if you get divorced, the Medicaid agency will treat your husband as a single person and evaluate his financial eligibility separately from your own. However, there may be other alternatives. If you and your husband have been keeping your assets separate, you may qualify for an approach referred to as “spousal refusal” under which the Medicaid agency would still look only at your husband’s financial situation. Whether this strategy is available will depend on your state’s application of the Medicaid rules and practices in your state. Another common strategy for married couples when one spouse needs nursing home care is to spend down by purchasing a qualifying annuity, though that’s difficult to do at your age. Finally, if your husband needs in-home care, in some instances, its possible for him to qualify for Medicaid without regard to your income or assets.
Also, be aware that divorce may not be so simple. If your husband doesn’t assert his marital rights to a share of your assets, Medicaid may see him as transferring assets to you, causing a penalty period. Since all this depends on how the law is applied in your state, I strongly recommend that you consult with a local elder law attorney. One source of such attorneys is www.elderlawanswers.com.