Like many people, you may have made it all the way to your retirement years without ever needing to rely on Medicaid to help cover your healthcare bills. As a senior,, however, there is a very good chance that will change, and if you fail to plan ahead, you may not qualify. The first step in the planning process is to learn what the eligibility requirements are for a senior. Toward that end, the Moline Medicaid attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP offer some basic guidelines for qualifying for Illinois Medicaid for seniors.
Will You Need Medicaid as a Senior?
As you age, the odds of needing long-term care increase with each passing year. When you enter your retirement years you already stand a 50-70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care (LTC) services before the end of your life. The longer you live, the higher the odds that you will end up in a nursing home – and the cost of that care will be high. In fact, the national average for 2017 was $80,000 for a year of LTC. As an Illinois resident, that’s what you can expect to pay as the cost of LTC in Illinois mirrors the national average. Although you may rely on Medicare to cover most of your healthcare expenses once you retire, you won’t be able to turn to Medicare for LTC expenses because Medicare won’t cover them. Neither will most health insurance policies. It is for this reason that over half of all seniors currently in an LTC facility rely on Medicaid for help paying their bill – because Medicaid does cover LTC.
Qualifying for Medicaid as a Senior in Illinois
Several important factors go into determining if you will qualify for Medicaid as a senior in Illinois. For that reason, it is always best to consult with a Medicaid planning attorney to ensure that you are clear on where you stand.
Illinois has more than one Medicaid program for seniors, including:
- Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid – an entitlement, meaning anyone who is eligible will receive assistance, and is provided only in nursing homes.
- Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services – a limited number of participants. Provided at home, adult day care or in assisted living.
- Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled – an entitlement and is provided at home or adult daycare.
Some of the most important, and common, eligibility requirements for a senior applying for Medicaid in Illinois include:
- You cannot have countable resources (assets) that exceed $2000 if you apply as an individual. If you are married your assets cannot exceed $3,000. If your assets exceed the limit, your application will be denied and you will have to “spend-down” those assets until they fall below the limit.
- Certain assets are exempt when considering eligibility for Medicaid, including, but not limited to:
- Your home; however, the maximum amount of home equity allowed is $572,000 for 2018
- One automobile
- Irrevocable burial trust
- Personal effects and clothing, household goods, and furniture
- Different asset rules apply if one spouse is in a nursing home and the other spouse remains at home. The spouse receiving the nursing care services is allowed $3000. The spouse who remains in the community is entitled to keep half of the couple’s countable assets up to a maximum of $109,500 for the calendar year 2018. This is referred to as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).
- An applicant is also subject to a monthly income limit. For an individual, the limit is $1,012. For a married couple applying together the limit is $1,372.
- There is also a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), which is the minimum amount of monthly income to which the non-applicant spouse is entitled. (As of July 2018, this figure falls between $2,057.50 / month and $3,090 / month). This rule allows the Medicaid applicant to transfer income to the non-applicant spouse to ensure he or she has sufficient funds with which to live.
Contact Moline Medicaid Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions or concerns regarding your ability to qualify for Medicaid as a senior, contact the experienced Moline Medicaid attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.