Medicaid Long-Term Care Eligibility and Your Home

Medicaid Planning Lawyer in Cary, NC
The Medicaid application in North Carolina can be a tricky minefield for people experiencing it for the first time. Disability, income, assets – all with different standards and different ramifications on your (or your loved one’s) eligibility. And while not all assets are treated equally, how you respond to a certain eight word question can have a very significant impact on Medicaid eligibility and future medical treatment.

Exempt or Countable Asset?

The common misconception is that the primary residence of the applicant is always an exempt asset for the purposes of Medicaid eligibility, i.e., it doesn’t count against the applicant. Well, not exactly. If the Medicaid application is completed correctly, it will be an exempt asset. But if you encounter the question “Do you intend to return to your home?” and answer “No,” the house will be considered a countable asset and will count against you or your loved one. If the house is countable, it will need to be sold and the proceeds used to pay for medical care or nursing home costs before Medicaid will begin coverage.

Subjective Standard

You may be thinking, “I’ve got [any debilitating disability], there’s no way I’m going to end up returning home.” For the purposes of Medicaid eligibility, your intention to return home is a subjective standard. It doesn’t matter if you sincerely think you will return home or not. You must only intend to return home. Wishful thinking counts.

Can I Have the Nursing Home Help With the Application?

That’s not a good idea. While they may have familiarity with the application itself, nursing home employees 1) cannot give legal advise, 2) do not have a fiduciary duty to do what’s in your best interests, and 3) are incentivized to make sure you don’t get approved for Medicaid because, well, nursing homes make a lot more money when people private pay for skilled nursing care.

It’s always a better idea to meet with an experienced elder law and medicaid planning lawyer to discuss your options.