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Chapter 13. Medicaid > Asset Eligibility

Asset Eligibility

Medicaid is a needs-based program, which means that to qualify for benefit payments, you must meet certain financial standards. The federal government sets eligibility guidelines, which then, in many instances, can be modified by the individual states as they operate Medicaid within their own borders. The information provided here is based on the federal guidelines. Individual variations of these rules will occur from state to state.

Under Medicaid, a nursing home resident is permitted to have no more than $2,000 worth of “countable assets.” In determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits for long-term care, the assets of both husband and wife are considered if either or both of them require nursing home care through Medicaid. The terms “countable” and “noncountable” assets are defined within the laws and regulations that govern the Medicaid program. In some states, IRA accounts are considered countable assets, whereas in others they are noncountable. Noncountable assets include personal possessions such as clothing, furniture, a television set and jewelry. Ever on the lookout for loopholes, in a famous Massachusetts case, a nursing home resident bought a large diamond ring in an unsuccessful effort to convert countable assets (money) to a noncountable asset (jewelry). It was ruled, and rightly so, that this was an improper abuse of the rules.


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