Hospital room

In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets.

The only rules for the remaining $2,000 are that (1) the money must be spent only for the Medicaid beneficiary, and (2) it may not exceed $2,000.

However, with respect to the second rule, a nursing home resident’s “countable” assets may temporarily exceed $2,000 because income is not treated as an asset until the following month.

For example, suppose a Medicaid beneficiary has $1,500 in the bank and on June 3rd she receives a Social Security payment of $800, bringing the bank balance up to $2,300. As long as the money is spent down so that by June 30th the balance is back under $2,000, the Medicaid beneficiary will not be disqualified.

Medicaid will also count checks written late in the month as reducing the balance of the Medicaid beneficiary’s account even if they do not clear by the end of the month. These late-in-the-month checks are considered “Encumbered Funds” by Medicaid regulations and are deducted from the end-of-month balance listed by the bank.

It is important to note that the most likely source of funds that could potentially disqualify a Medicaid beneficiary by raising their “countable” assets above the $2,000 threshold for more than 30 days is an inheritance received from a spouse who passes away unexpectedly leaving everything to the Medicaid beneficiary.

For advice on how to avoid this situation or for more information about Medicaid’s asset rules, contact the team at Johnson Hobbs Squires LLP.