Medicaid Benefits Married Couple
Zacharia & Brown has been providing Elder Law Services since 1995. One of the most important services we have provided, over that time frame, is to married couples where one spouse is at home (called the community spouse) and the other is in the nursing facility. Our work with these cases has provided a tremendous source of satisfaction for our firm. More than anyone else, a married couple in this situation requires the services of an elder law attorney. The rules for Medicaid benefits, for married couples, are the most confusing of all of the rules. It is very risky to attempt to navigate these rules without the expertise of an elder law firm such as Zacharia & Brown. For example: there are special rules to make certain that the Community Spouse does not become impoverished and that he or she can continue to be self-sufficient. However, these rules must be applied in a fashion that serves the Community Spouse both now AND in the future. In this example, the rules state that Medicaid will become available after the married couple spends down one-half of their life savings. The Community Spouse is entitled to keep one-half of the savings (not to exceed certain maximum amounts). The remainder of the savings must be spent down.
Too many people believe that they must use the one-half of their life savings that is being spent down on the nursing facility. That is NOT the law and never was. If your spouse is in a nursing home and you are required to spend half of your life savings, you must analyze a significant number of issues. You do not necessarily have to dispense the spend down amount on the nursing home. Consider what your needs are as the Community Spouse both now and in the future. Do you need a new vehicle? What about home improvements? These and many other items are allowable expenditures for the required spend down money. The cost of hiring Zacharia & Brown can also be an allowable expenditure if done properly. You cannot give money away but you can spend it on yourself if you have the proper legal guidance in doing so.
One of the most important considerations is the income that the Community Spouse receives now and in the future. There are special rules for income that will allow the Community Spouse, under certain circumstances, to keep some or all of the income of the Nursing Home Spouse. In some situations, where the combined incomes are not enough, the Community Spouse can keep more (sometimes ALL) of the assets. In addition, there are circumstances where the Community Spouse can purchase a special type of annuity that will make certain that he or she always has enough income to pay the bills on a monthly basis. If you wait too long to seek out assistance and have incurred nursing home bills, it may be too late for either of these options.
What would happen if the Community Spouse passes away BEFORE the Nursing Home Spouse? Do they have the appropriate estate plan in place? In many circumstances, if the Community Spouse passes away before the Nursing Home Spouse, the family risks losing THEIR ENTIRE LIFE SAVINGS. At Zacharia & Brown, we work with our clients and put into place an estate plan that makes certain that does not occur.
It is critically important to seek out the assistance of Zacharia & Brown if your spouse is either in a nursing home or going into a nursing home. You need to know that Medicaid WILL require you to spend down your savings. The first and best expenditure you can make with those funds is to hire Zacharia & Brown to help you navigate these difficult and sometimes hostile waters.