How to Protect Assets if Your Spouse Needs Skilled Nursing Care in North Carolina

If your spouse needs to go into a nursing home, it can bring some relief to know that Medicaid can help pay for their care. But Medicaid has strict requirements, and your spouse can only keep $2,000 worth of assets to be eligible.

Below, learn how to protect assets if your spouse goes into a nursing home.

Giving Away Assets Can Cause a Penalty Period

Skilled nursing facility expenses can add up quickly, so it’s tempting to give away or sell assets to help your spouse qualify as soon as possible. It’s important to know, however, that Medicaid has a five-year look-back period.  Medicaid will look back five years from the date of your application to ensure that you didn’t gift or transfer assets for less than fair market value. If you have made gifts or transfers for less than fair market value, you will be subject to a penalty period during which you will need to pay out of pocket for your spouse’s skilled nursing care.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Purchasing long-term care insurance is one option for paying for long-term care; however, long-term care insurance is becoming more and more difficult to get and more and more expensive.

Planning ahead is key if you are considering long-term care insurance – the earlier the better.  You don’t want to wait until your spouse needs skilled nursing care to apply, because he/she likely will not qualify.

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

Medicaid has rules so that you, as the healthy spouse (“the community spouse”), do not have to impoverish yourself.  The Community Spouse Resource Allowance can protect assets when your spouse enters a long-term skilled nursing facility and needs to access Medicaid benefits.

How does it work? On the first day of a continuous 30-day stay at hospital, rehab facility, or skilled nursing facility (called the “snapshot date”), Medicaid will count your joint assets. If you have $29,724 or less, all of your assets will be protected.  If you have more than $29,724 but not more than $59,448, you can keep $29,724.  If you have more than $59,448, but not mor than $297,240, you can protect one-half of your assets.  If you have more than $297,240, you can keep $148,620.

Medicaid-Compliant Annuity

If your assets are greater than the Community Spouse Resource Allowance, you can use those assets to purchase a Medicaid-Compliant Annuity. This immediate annuity must meet strict requirements in order to work for Medicaid eligibility.   The Medicaid-Compliant annuity converts assets into income and by doing so eliminates assets over the resource limit and provides the community spouse with income to provide for his or her needs.

Don’t Lose Your Assets When Your Spouse Needs Nursing Home Care

When your spouse needs a nursing home, Medicaid may tell you that they can’t have more than $2,000 in assets, but you don’t need to go into poverty just so your loved one qualifies.

If you’d like to learn more about how to protect assets if your spouse goes into a nursing home, call Brady-Cobin Law Group, PLLC, at (919) 782-3500 today.