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10 FAQs on Medicaid for Seniors in Florida

Medicaid serves as a crucial medical and long-term care insurance program for residents of Florida with limited assets and income. In this FAQ guide, we’ll delve into the specifics of Medicaid eligibility for seniors in the State of Florida, covering various aspects from house ownership to income thresholds.

1. Which seniors are eligible for Medicaid in the State of Florida?

Generally, seniors with low/no income and assets who have a medical need.  

For single individuals over 65, the yearly pre-tax income must not exceed $19,392. For couples, the combined pre-tax income should not surpass $26,228 annually. These income limits are essential benchmarks for seniors seeking Medicaid coverage in Florida.

In addition to income, asset limits are a vital consideration. As of 2023, the asset limit for Medicaid eligibility in Florida is set at $2,000. However, it’s important to note that certain assets are exempt from this calculation:

Primary Residences: The value of the primary residence is usually exempt from the asset calculation. This exemption, however, does have equity limits, and it’s advisable to understand the specific guidelines.

Additional Homes: Additional homes may be owned if they are rented out or listed for sale at a reasonable market rate.

Burial-related Assets: Assets designated for burial purposes, such as final expense insurance and burial plots, are typically exempt. This recognizes the need for individuals to set aside funds for their funeral arrangements.

Certain Automobiles: While the overall asset limit is $2,000, certain automobiles may be excluded from this calculation. Understanding the rules regarding vehicle exemptions is crucial for accurate eligibility assessment.

2. What are the Medicaid eligibility rules regarding house ownership?

Owning a home does not automatically disqualify a senior from being eligible for Medicaid. However, the equity the senior owns in the home may affect eligibility. In 2023, a primary residence is generally exempt if the senior’s equity is at or below $688,000. 

There are certain exemptions that may also apply to certain rental properties or properties listed for sale.  While these exemptions mean that ownership of a rental property cannot be used to disqualify a Medicaid applicant, the monthly rental income is likely to exceed the low income threshold. 

An experienced Medicaid attorney can work with seniors and their families to develop strategies that may allow the seniors to be eligible for Medicaid while maintaining control of rental properties.

3. What are the Medicaid eligibility rules regarding car ownership?

Generally, one car is considered an exempt asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes. However, there are limitations on the vehicle’s value.  Additional cars may be owned if those vehicles are not late models, yet not antiques or otherwise cars of luxury or high value.

4. Can I give away all my assets to make myself eligible for Medicaid?

Medicaid has a five-year “lookback” period during which gifts or transfers of assets may impact eligibility. Gifting assets to meet eligibility should be done cautiously and within legal guidelines, preferably under the management of an experienced Florida-based estate planning attorney.

5. How can I sell my house and maintain my Medicaid eligibility?

Successfully selling a house without jeopardizing Medicaid eligibility is possible as long as there has been adequate estate planning prior to the sale. To remain eligible for Medicaid following a house sale a senior must first declare the sale as a significant change in circumstances within 10 days of completing the transaction.  Also, the proceeds from the sale must be spent entirely or, otherwise protected, before the end of the following month after the transaction.  An experienced Florida estate planning attorney can strategically plan with you to find the most efficient means to spend down and/or protect the proceeds of the transaction.

Medicaid has a five-year “lookback” period during which gifts or transfers of assets may impact eligibility.

6. What are the eligibility requirements for Florida Medicaid’s long-term care program?

Long-term care through Medicaid in Florida requires both meeting the specific income and asset criteria as well as being unable to perform at least two activities of daily living. Special consideration is given to the spouse that will remain in the primary residence while the Medicaid eligible spouse goes into a nursing home. 

7. Can Florida Medicaid foreclose on my home to recuperate Long-Term Care costs?

Medicaid may place a lien on the home, but foreclosure is typically delayed until the recipient passes away or sells the property. This is conducted through the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. Consulting early with an experienced legal expert who understands Medicaid can help to avoid the loss of a house should a senior go into a nursing home and have the costs covered by Medicaid.

8. How can I become eligible for Medicaid despite having income over the threshold?

Medicaid planning, which may involve creating a Qualified Income Trust (QIT), could help individuals with income exceeding the threshold to become eligible.

9. How can I become eligible for Medicaid despite having assets over the threshold?

Certain legal strategies, such as setting up irrevocable trusts or spending down excess assets on allowed expenses, may assist in meeting Medicaid asset requirements.

10. How can working with an elder law attorney help me to become eligible for Medicaid?

Elder law and Medicaid attorneys specialize in navigating complex Medicaid rules. They can provide personalized advice, assist with legal documents, guide you through the application process and increase your chances of successful eligibility.

South Florida Law

Understanding the generalities of Medicaid eligibility is important for seniors and their families. However, navigating the nuances, exceptions and special conditions requires the professional legal advice of an experienced Medicaid and Elder Law attorney. At South Florida Law we have the knowledge and resources to manage the complexities and help our senior clients and their families to have a secure future with access to essential healthcare services.  If you are in the process of applying for Medicaid or if you have Medicaid and are concerned about eligibility, the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program or any other aspect of Florida Medicaid, reach out to us today via our contact form or by calling (954) 900-8885

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