Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Medicaid

Medicaid serves as a financial lifeline for many aging Florida residents. While Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements, there are tools and strategies that can be used to establish eligibility, and many seniors who assume they are ineligible will find that they can collect Medicaid benefits with strategic planning.

With that said, if you are considering applying for Medicaid in Florida, there are some important mistakes you need to avoid.

Here are three common examples:

Mistake #1: Giving Assets to Your Children or Other Family Members in Order to Reduce the Value of Your Estate

While Medicaid is a needs-based program, and while you may need to reduce the value of your estate in order to qualify for benefits, giving assets to your children or other family members is not the way to go. The Florida Department of Children and Families (which administers Medicaid in Florida) applies a five-year lookback period when assessing eligibility, and gifts made within five years of the date of application can delay a person’s qualification for benefits.

If you can’t give gifts to your children and other family members, what options do you have available? By using life planning tools, and other planning tools, instead of making direct gifts, you can reduce the value of your estate without triggering a penalty associated with the lookback period.

Mistake #2: Assuming You Need to Sell Your Home

The asset limit for Medicaid eligibility in Florida is $2,000. In other words, if you have more than $2,000 in assets, you are not eligible for Medicaid in Florida. For many seniors, this leads to an assumption that they will need to sell their home (and do something with the proceeds of the sale) in order to qualify.

However, when calculating assets for Medicaid eligibility purposes, a number of specific assets are ignored. This includes up to $585,000 in equity in your primary residence. If you have less than this amount of equity in your home (or if your home is worth less than $585,000), then you can continue living in your home and apply for Medicaid. Additionally, if the equity in your home is greater than $585,000, there are planning tools you can use in order to qualify.

Mistake #3: Failing to Consider All Sources of Income

In addition to examining applicants’ assets, Florida’s Medicaid eligibility criteria examine applicants’ income sources as well. For 2020, the gross monthly income limit is $2,349. If your monthly income from all sources exceeds this amount, does this mean you are out of luck? Again, the answer is, “no.” By working with an elder law attorney to establish a qualified income trust or a Miller trust, you can maintain your income and still apply for Medicaid.

Contact Florida Elder Law Attorney Mark F. Moss

If you have questions about applying for Medicaid in Florida, attorney Mark F. Moss can help you understand what options you have available. To arrange a confidential consultation over the phone or in person in Jacksonville, please call 904-329-7242 or inquire online today.