Under certain circumstances, Medicaid will cover the cost of nursing home care. In order to be eligible for coverage, individuals have to fall under a fairly restrictive eligibility asset cap. If a potential Medicaid applicant is married, however, the combined assets of the married couple are taken into account. While the applicant spouse still has to fit under the individual asset cap, the spouse of that individual can keep a significant amount of property.

The asset amount an applicant’s spouse is allowed to keep is known as the community spouse resource allowance. This allowance allows an individual in need to receive Medicaid nursing home coverage while helping to prevent the applicant’s spouse from becoming impoverished.

The amount of the allowance varies depending on the amount of the couple’s countable assets when the applicant spouse either enters the hospital before immediately starting a nursing home stay or the date when a spouse directly enters the nursing home. In general, the community spouse gets to keep half the couple’s countable assets up to a certain amount. Once the applicant spouse’s countable assets are below the individual asset cap and the community spouse’s assets are below the community spouse resource allowance, then the applicant becomes eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage.

For Missouri in 2017, the individual asset cap is $2000 and the cap on the community spouse resource allowance is $120,900. Keep in mind that the community spouse’s allowance may be less than that depending on what the couple’s combined countable asset level was when the applicant spouse entered the hospital or nursing home.

The asset cap only includes what are called countable assets. In general, a couple’s primary residence and certain other basic belongings are not considered countable assets. Assets such as cash, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts generally are considered countable assets. An elder law attorney will help you figure out exactly what specific assets are considered countable for Medicaid purposes and help develop a plan to maximize asset preservation.

To find out if Medicaid is the best option for your or your spouse’s nursing home coverage, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.