Veterans may be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help pay for homebound, Assisted Living or nursing home care. Also many veterans may qualify for ADB Medicaid that pays only for nursing home care.
The qualifications for ADB Medicaid include asset and income limitations. Even though Medicaid is a federal program, it is administered by the states, and in turn, at the county level, therefore, rules and guidelines can and will vary from state to state.
Generally, Medicaid allows a couple to keep a total of $ 104,000 in assets and monthly income of less than $2300 not including their house and car. All other monies must be spent for their nursing home care. In other words, the couple must spend down their monies to meet the guidelines. A single person must spend down to $ 2000 of assets, and have less than $1850 of monthly income.
Some seniors think that they can gift $12,000 away to each of their children and then qualify for Medicaid. The reality is that any assets given away within a five year period from the time the person goes into a nursing home will be brought back into the look back equation. The only way gifts are not counted is if the gift occurred five years prior to the senior going into the nursing home.
In the past, seniors also used annuities to shelter their assets from Medicaid spend-down.
Single seniors today must name the state as the primary beneficiary in order to qualify for benefits. In the event of a married couple, income from an annuity can be used for the healthy spouse at home. Caution- not all annuities have the proper language in order to qualify as income for the healthy spouse. The annuity must be “irrevocable, un-assignable, non-commutable”, and annuitized for the correct life expectancy according to the Medicaid tables. (Balloon annuities are no longer allowed!)
It is recommended that the veteran seek help from a qualified eldercare attorney that specializes in Medicaid planning. Not all attorneys specialize in this area, so ask how many Medicaid cases that the attorney does each year.