Qualifying for Nursing Home Medicaid While Owning a Home

Is it true that I have to sell mom’s home before she can get Medicaid? We just received this question yesterday…and the day before that… and a few times last week… There is so much confusion about Medicaid, especially when it comes to home ownership. A nursing home resident can own a home and still qualify for Medicaid. The home is considered an exempt asset for Medicaid. So, a person can get Medicaid and own a home. There are two big complications, though. First complication: there may be no way to pay the mortgage or tax bills. Medicaid requires that a person spend almost all of their income on their patient liability (or on paying their share of the nursing home bill). And although Medicaid allows its beneficiaries to make health insurance premium payments and to divert money to their spouses (if Spousal Diversion Criteria are met), Medicaid does not allow for its beneficiaries to spend income on mortgage payments, real estate taxes, maintenance, or utilities. The costs of owning and maintaining the home must be paid by someone else. Second complication: the house may be subject to Medicaid estate recovery. When Medicaid helps pay for nursing home care, the state must attempt to recoup from the beneficiary’s estate whatever amount was paid on the resident’s behalf; this is called estate recovery. Since Medicaid rules limit the number and amount of assets a resident can own, the only property of substantial value that a Medicaid recipient is likely to own at death is his or her home. So, no-you do not have to sell mom’s home before she can get Medicaid, but you must consider these two big complications and plan accordingly. One of our elder law attorneys can help you create the best plan–please call our office to get started at (404) 843-0121.

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