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Chapter 13. Medicaid > Just Say No

Just Say No

As I said earlier, the assets of both the husband and wife are generally considered in determining Medicaid eligibility even if only one of them is going into a nursing home. But what happens if your spouse does not cooperate with Medicaid when you apply for residency in a nursing home? If you have been living apart for many years without divorcing or if you don’t know the whereabouts of your spouse, Medicaid qualification will not pose a problem, because under federal law, if a couple has separated for more than a month before a spouse goes into a nursing home, the absent spouse’s income and assets are not considered in determining Medicaid eligibility for the person going into the nursing home.

In some states, particularly New York, as a way of protecting their own assets, community spouses often refuse to cooperate. They just say no. If you are in the situation of a non-cooperating spouse, the state steps into your shoes to request spousal support from the spouse living in the community. It varies even from county to county as to whether Medicaid will seek to obtain spousal support from a non-cooperating spouse. Even in states where this tactic is not specifically used, as a practical matter the assets of a non-cooperating spouse can be determined to be inaccessible assets or considering those assets would cause an undue hardship, so the same end can be achieved.


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