ursing home Medicaid is a program funded by the Federal government and administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health that provides coverage for nursing home care for those who have a medical need for such services. Along with showing a medical need for nursing home care, an applicant for nursing home Medicaid must also meet asset and income qualifications to receive coverage.
One of the options considered when a married individual needs nursing home Medicaid but has too many assets is a divorce. Under this scenario, the individual needing Medicaid transfers substantially all of their assets to their spouse and then files for divorce. Once the divorce is complete, the newly single Medicaid applicant now meets the asset requirement to receive Medicaid. For many Medicaid applicants the thought of divorcing the spouse they love, whom they have been married to for decades, is unbearable. Luckily, there are other options.
Assets of a married couple are combined when reviewing an application for one spouse to receive Medicaid. However, the assets of the spouse of the Medicaid applicant are only counted for Medicaid qualification of the other spouse in the first month of application. Also, the income of the spouse not applying for nursing home Medicaid has no effect on Medicaid qualification. The combination of these two rules allows for planning opportunities. The excess assets are transferred to the spouse who is not applying for nursing home Medicaid, and then these excess assets are converted to an income stream for the spouse that is not countable for Medicaid purposes.
The services of an experienced elder law attorney are needed to implement this type of planning. There are several requirements that must be met to convert the asset into an income stream for Medicaid, and care must be made to properly document the income. If the proper planning is put in place, a marriage that survived decades can also survive a nursing home.