Medicaid Planning for Married Couples

For married Michigan couples whose combined incomes fall slightly above or below the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), Medicaid planning can help ensure that a proper “healthcare safety net” is put in place should medical assistance ever be required. This not only offers you access to potentially life-saving medical treatment, but also can provide the peace of mind of knowing that your spouse (and your future family) can possibly have access this plan as well.

It is no secret that in the state of Michigan, the costs of healthcare can skyrocket as we continue to grow older. Between long-term care and treatments—such as nursing homes—to unexpected medical emergencies, having a plan in place that ensures you and your spouse are able to receive adequate medical care can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

Living in a nursing home, for example, can easily cost nearly $10,000 a month, accounting for life-saving treatment, transportation and round-the-clock care for each patient. The terror that such a high cost can incur might be enough to shy individuals away from getting the care that they need, and can drive married couples to sacrifice all of their financial assets in order to pay for the costs.

At SSR Law Office, we believe that healthcare is not just a right—it is a necessity. Because of this, we are committed to helping married couples plan and qualify for adequate Medicaid coverage to ensure that every couple has the healthcare that they deserve.

Can we maintain our assets under Medicaid coverages?

A common misconception is that couples must have nothing in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits. This is not true at all—while Medicaid coverage is only extended to those whole meet the strict financial eligibility requirements, a married couple is entitled to hold assets while also receiving Medicaid coverage, just as any individual is.

For qualifying couples in Michigan, their combined income must be no higher than 133 percent of the FPL—for two people, this means that their annual income must be $16,460 or lower. While a couple’s most important assets are protected under Medicaid, additional assets may also face similar restrictions that must be met in order to maintain Medicaid coverage, and may include:

  • Cash
  • Home: If you and your spouse’s home is valued at less at $572,000 or less, it is excluded as an asset. If it exceeds this value, you may be expected to liquidate your home;
  • Cars: One car can be excluded as an asset on your application;
  • Funeral and Burial Funds: An irrevocable prepaid funeral contract will be excluded as an asset as long as its value does not exceed $11,393. In addition to this, an individual may hold one revocable account as long as it is designated for funerary purposes and does not exceed $1,500.

The assets named above is not an exhaustive list; depending on the assets owned, a married couple may have to substantially liquidate or transfer their assets in order to qualify. However, doing this without proper planning can incur unintentional penalties, and ultimately affect individual or joint eligibility for Medicaid. Because of this, we urge you to use caution and plan carefully if attempting to transfer assets to family members.

What if I qualify for Medicaid, but my spouse does not?

If you or your spouse wish to apply for Medicaid while the other is not eligible for coverage, the non-qualifying spouse (known as a Community Spouse) may be able to retain additional assets without disqualifying their partner from Medicaid coverage. Community spouses are entitled to keep a portion of the couple’s assets as their own to protect themselves from spousal impoverishment.

In Michigan, a community spouse can keep half of the assets up to $123,600 without disqualifying their partner from Medicaid coverage, also known as a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). In addition to a maximum value of assets, a community spouse will keep at least $24,720 for themselves as their spouse receives care under Medicaid.

What do I need to qualify for a Couple’s Medicaid Plan?

Aside from meeting the strict financial eligibility requirements for Medicaid coverage, a number of documents may be needed in order to prove yours and your spouse’s eligibility—these may include housing deeds, existing estate planning documents, and current account statements. Fortunately, we have created a comprehensive Medicaid Application Checklist for couples seeking to file a Medicaid application, and includes all the various forms of documentation needed to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Qualifying and applying for Medicaid can be a complex endeavor, which is why we strongly suggest enlisting the help of qualified professionals in choosing what is best for you and your spouse’s unique situation and ensuring that the plan is carefully crafted and executed. Although Medicaid planning is not an investment strategy in itself, resources you devote to securing professional advice and assistance are an investment in your peace of mind when it comes to knowing that your plan will be safe, legal and serve all of your medical purposes.

Contact an Experienced Medicaid Planning Lawyer

As beneficial as it is to have healthcare, securing your individual Medicaid coverage can seem like an incredibly daunting task, even if you already have a financial plan in motion. Schock Solaiman Ramdayal, PLLC has the experience and the expertise needed to help you and your spouse avoid the financial ruin associated with the high cost of long-term care, and we are dedicated to helping you receive the healthcare that you deserve. Contact us today for any assistance you and your spouse may need in understanding Medicaid eligibility, implementing a Medicaid plan, and starting the application process.