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A closer look at Medicaid planning

As Georgians age, they begin to have concerns about healthcare and where they will live. Several federal and state programs exist to provide answers to these questions. People who want to obtain Medicaid benefits must show that their income is below the state and federal limits, along with other requirements.

As most people know, Medicaid refers to the jointly funded state and federal medical assistance programs for low income people of all ages. Perhaps the most important feature of Medicaid in Georgia is the funding of health care and living facilities for elderly residents. Medicaid provides financial assistance for three basic types of programs:

  • Institutional or nursing home Medicaid
  • Medicaid waivers that provide home and community based services
  • Regular Medicaid that provides services for those who are blind or disabled

The first step in Medicaid planning is to total up an applicant's net income and assets. A Medicaid applicant must count all income from all sources, including wages, Social Security income, and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If only one spouse applies for Medicaid, the income of the other spouse is disregarded. The income limit is stated as a monthly allowance, and it changes periodically. Medicaid eligibility also depends on the applicant's net assets.

In some states, Medicaid applicants can become eligible by spending their assets or transferring them to certain kinds of trusts that have been approved by the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, these programs are generally not available in Georgia, and Medicaid applicants cannot "spend down' their assets to become eligible.

Those with questions about nursing home/Medicaid planning may wish to consult an experienced eldercare attorney to review their specific situation.

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