Florida’s Medicaid eligibility rules change frequently. Our attorneys stay on top of all changes, so you can be sure you will always get the most up-to-date guidance from us. Consulting with our attorneys may enable you to retain a good portion of your nest egg before you “spend down” and lose virtually everything to nursing home costs.
Effective January 1, 2024, three key eligibility requirements have changed:
Limits on Medicaid Applicant’s Gross Monthly Income
Effective Jan 1, 2024, the applicant’s gross monthly income may not exceed $2,829 (was $2,742). The applicant may retain $160 per month for personal expenses.
If an applicant has excess income, the problem can be solved with the creation of a qualified income-only trust. The trust, which is irrevocable, holds the applicant’s excess income in a non-interest-bearing account. The funds are then used to pay the nursing home and other medical expenses. Someone other than the applicant must serve as trustee. When the nursing home resident passes away, Florida is entitled to repayment from the residual funds in the trust for any monies expended by Medicaid. Only an experienced elder law attorney should set up a qualified income-only trust.
Limits on The Well Spouse’s Assets
Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the Medicaid applicant’s well spouse (also known as the “community spouse”) may retain up to $154,140 in assets (was $148,620). This is in addition to exempt, non-available, and income-producing assets.
Home Equity Limit
Effective January 1, 2024, the home equity cap increased to $713,000 (was $688,000). Home equity is based on the fair market value of the home, minus debt. If a home is held in any form of shared ownership, Medicaid considers the value of the applicant’s fractional interest.
The equity cap may be waived under one of the following conditions:
- The Medicaid applicant’s spouse resides in the home.
- The Medicaid applicant’s child under age 21 resides in the home.
- The Medicaid applicant’s child who is blind or disabled, regardless of age, resides in the home.
Also, the applicant must demonstrate that he/she intends to return to the home, even if in reality that is unlikely. Therefore, steps must be taken to preserve the home for the applicant’s possible return. For example, it would not be advisable to rent the home to someone on a long-term lease; that would demonstrate that the applicant does not intend to return home. Additionally, doing so would produce income which could also be a problem for eligibility.
Many people who apply for Medicaid and their spouses worry unnecessarily that Medicaid may take their home after they pass away. Medicaid cannot recover the home if:
- The property is still the homestead property of the applicant when he/she passes away; and
- The applicant, at death, passes the house to constitutional heirs at law (spouse, children or grandchildren, siblings, nieces or nephews.) It is an unfortunate and all-too-common legal blunder when an applicant, acting without the guidance of a qualified elder law attorney and in hopes of protecting the home from a Medicaid lien, rushes to deed the home to children prior to applying for Medicaid. Giving away the home during the five-year lookback period preceding application will be considered a gift, and will count against the applicant’s eligibility!
Contact The Karp Law Firm at 561-625-1100 for an appointment to discuss how you may protect your assets from long-term nursing home costs. To see additional eligibility rules for nursing home benefits in Florida, click here.