What Assets Count for Medicaid Eligibility?

Close up shot of medicaid cards. Concept for medicaid eligibility.

For elders residing in the State of Georgia, the Medicaid program often provides financial support for long-term and nursing home care. The program has eligibility limits based on income and assets of the elder. In many cases, a person who thinks they may not be eligible can achieve eligibility with assistance from a Medicaid planning lawyer, like our attorneys at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia. In this article, our lawyers explain the asset limitations for Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid Eligibility Generally

Medicaid is an entitlement program that provides assistance to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria. The requirements are based on the individual’s income and assets. If the Medicaid applicant has a spouse, assets of the married couple are considered jointly owned. The program does provide a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) for a non-applicant spouse.

Some individuals who think they may not qualify based on the stated income and asset limitations can achieve eligibility by utilizing tools and strategies that Medicaid makes available. If you think you may not qualify, it’s essential to talk with a Medicaid planning lawyer before you draw a conclusion about Medicaid eligibility. A knowledgeable attorney may be able to help you become eligible for Medicaid financial assistance for your long term or nursing home care.

Medicaid Asset Limits

For 2022, the asset limitation for Georgia Medicaid eligibility is $2,000. If two spouses apply at the same time, the asset limit is $3,000. If one spouse of a married couple applies, the asset limit is $2,000 for the applicant and $137,400 for the non-applicant.

In determining eligibility based on the Medicaid asset limits, some assets are countable or non-exempt. Other assets are not countable or exempt. The distinction is extremely important. Non-countable or exempt assets are not included in making the calculation.

Exempt assets include the applicant’s equity interest in their residence home of up to $636,000 for 2022. For the home to be exempt, the applicant must live in the home or have the intent to return to the home, or a non-applicant spouse must live in the home. Assets exempt from the Medicaid eligibility calculation also include:

  • Household goods and personal property, such as clothing, jewelry, furnishings, appliances, and home decorative items
  • Certain life insurance policies (Read our article How Does Life Insurance Affect Medicaid Eligibility in Georgia? for detailed information.)
  • Up to $10,000 of assets set aside for burial costs, as well as a burial plots or spaces
  • One vehicle, regardless of value and use
  • Retirement funds dispersed in regular payments that include principal, which are counted as income
  • Non-marketable assets that meet certain conditions

Countable assets for determining Medicaid eligibility include cash, stocks, bonds, all financial accounts (investment, savings, checking, credit union), any real estate which is not the applicant's principal residence and any vehicles beyond one exempt vehicle. All assets owned by the applicant or their spouse are included in the calculation.

The most important point of this article bears repeating: Even if you think your assets put you over the eligibility limit for Medicaid assistance for long-term costs, you should not reach that conclusion without talking to our Medicaid planning attorneys at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia. Many individuals and married couples can achieve eligibility through use of strategies and tools that Medicaid makes available.

It is also extremely important that you not attempt to achieve Medicaid eligibility on your own by transferring assets. Medicaid has a five-year look back period that applies to counting assets. If you violate the look-back rule, you can become ineligible for Medicaid assistance for a specific period.

Before you transfer any property due to Medicaid eligibility requirements, it’s essential to talk with our Medicaid planning attorneys. In particular, you should never consider gifting your home to your children in anticipation of applying for Medicaid or for other reasons. Using that approach to attempt to qualify for assistance has significant risks.

Protecting Your Home

Income and asset eligibility are just one of many Medicaid-related concerns that need to be addressed for individuals who are planning for long-term care. For most people, protecting their home is another primary concern. There are specific steps that you can take to protect your home before you enter a nursing home. You should not try to take these steps on your own without assistance from a long-term care and Medicaid planning attorney.

In protecting your home, you can minimize the impact of Georgia Medicaid estate recovery rules, which enable the government to recover the amount of your Medicaid benefits from your estate after you pass away. These rules may result in a lien placed on your home during your lifetime and in forcing the sale of your home after your death. Learn more about Medicaid estate recovery in our article, Why You Should Make Sure Your Home Is Protected Before Entering a Nursing Home.

Talk With a Georgia Medicaid Planning Attorney

In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help seniors and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Nursing home planning and Medicaid planning are an important part of our services. If you need to plan for Medicaid, nursing home care, and other long-term needs for yourself or a loved one, we can answer all your questions and help you make the right decisions.

We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.

Categories: Medicaid