medicaid asset limits

Medicaid Asset Limits – What You Can and Cannot Keep

Many people in the United States use Medicaid to assist them with their nursing home care, and rightly so.  The average cost of care has increased considerably over the years and is projected to continue to rise.  In the state of Missouri, the 2017 average cost was about $58,000.  The 2019 average cost was just over $60,000.  While Missouri is on the low end of the spectrum, the national average is $89,000 per year.  For married couples, these costs can be detrimental to the spouse not needing nursing home care and could easily lead to impoverishment.  Fortunately, Medicaid asset limits can help prevent impoverishment which allows the spouse not receiving nursing home care to retain some assets. 

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

When an individual is applying for Medicaid, a caseworker will review and evaluate all assets to determine financial eligibility. Some of the assets will be counted and others will be excluded.  The assessment of assets can be a complicated process.  This will depend on the type of assets and the value of those assets.  “Non-countable (or exempt)” and “Countable” are the two primary categories of assets reviewed during the Medicaid eligibility process.

Exemptions from Medicaid Asset Limits 

The first category is referred to as exempt assets.  These are assets an individual is allowed to keep and not counted towards qualification for Medicaid eligibility.       

1.  Primary Residence

The primary residence of the applicant or married couple is exempt as long as a few requirements are met.  The primary home must be located in the state the Medicaid application is being submitted for and second, the value of the home must not exceed $595,000  If the community spouse (Medicaid applicants spouse) or any dependent children continue to live in the primary home once nursing home care for the institutional spouse has begun, the home is considered to be exempt no matter the equity value of the home.  Additionally, the home furnishings and appliances located in the home are also exempt.  As well as things such as clothing, wedding, or engagement rings.  Other jewelry items may not be considered exempt.  

primary home asset limits

2. Medicaid Asset Limits and Your Car

One vehicle, regardless of the type or market value, is considered an exempt asset as long as it is being used for transportation of the applicant or another family member residing in the home.

3.  Funeral/Burial Funds

Non-refundable or prepaid burial expenses are considered exempt.  This includes things such as irrevocable funeral trusts having a value of $15,000 or less.  It is important to note an applicant may set aside up to $1,500 in a revocable burial trust which is also considered exempt.    

4.  Property for Self-Support

When an applicant owns real property used in the course of his or her “trade, business or employment,” the entire value of the property is exempt.  The caseworker’s manual includes many examples, one of which is if the applicant is a cattle farmer and he owns 10 acres of land not adjoining the homestead. The cattle feed on the 10 acres. The 10 acres are exempt as they are being used directly by the applicant in the course of his business.  This is an intricate area of the law to navigate.

5.  Life Insurance Policies, Spend Down

Term life insurance policies are exempt as they have no cash value.  The combined cash value of any universal, variable life, and permanent policies must have a value of $1,500 or less to be exempt.  

medicaid lawyer asset limits

Non-Exemptions from Medicaid Asset Limits

Non-exempt assets are countable toward the cost of care when determining Division of assets in the case of married couples.  This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, luxury personal property, second vehicles, and boats. 

Medicaid Income Limits

For married couples, where only one spouse is applying for home and community-based services via nursing home Medicaid or a Medicaid waiver, the community spouse is allotted a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA).  This is the minimum amount of income the non-applicant spouse should have each month to take care of their needs.  If the community spouse’s income alone does not meet the minimum, the nursing home spouse’s income may be attributed to the community spouse.  Currently, the minimum is $2,155 per month.  This may be increased should the community spouse’s expenses exceed certain allowances.  The maximum to which Medicaid can approve is $3,217.  

medicaid asset limits

In closing

Many different guidelines are used to calculate countable income and to determine an individual’s need for medical care.  It is recommended to always work with an experienced attorney with expertise in Medicaid law.  Even if a senior’s income and assets exceed the Medicaid asset limits, it does not mean they will not qualify for Medicaid coverage.  There are many different strategies when planning for Medicaid when income exceeds Medicaid allowances such as an asset spend down, medically needy pathway, and qualified income trusts.

By choosing an experienced Medicaid lawyer you have the benefit of knowledge and expertise to help you plan and get through the Medicaid application process.  At Paths Elder Law, our caring staff is here to help from applying for Medicaid to helping determine Division of Assets.  

We can help you protect the life savings you worked so hard for.  If you or your spouse need long-term nursing home care, contact Paths Elder Law.

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Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL

Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City

PARALEGAL

Sydney

Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.

 

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.

 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.

 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits

 

Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René

René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.

 

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary

Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.

 

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings nearly 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

 

Practice Areas

 

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education

 

BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City


Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri


Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate