With an aging population and rising medical costs, Americans are becoming more and more acquainted with Medicaid. However, few actually understand what Medicaid is and are often unable to distinguish between Medicare and Medicaid. To start with, both are federal programs designed to help with healthcare costs. However, the two programs diverge when focusing on the beneficiaries. While Medicare is available to all who are 65 years of age or older, or those who are disabled, Medicaid has additional restrictions which allow it to serve a subgroup of those who qualify for Medicare. To qualify for Medicaid, you must satisfy a “means-test” which means that you must have low income and low assets to qualify. Despite some individuals failing to qualify for Medicaid due to too high an income or surplus assets, they may still be unable to afford the necessary healthcare treatment given rising medical costs. As a result, planning for Medicaid can ensure that you aren’t stuck in a situation in which you cannot qualify for Medicaid and also cannot afford the required healthcare. An experienced Medicaid planning attorney can work with you to ensure that you achieve your goals while still qualifying for much-needed Medicaid coverage.
At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we specifically focus on elder law, of which Medicaid planning is a component. Over the years, we have helped individuals like yourself plan for retirement and the later stages of life. We understand the intricacies of estate planning, retirement, long-term care planning, Medicaid eligibility, and the litany of issues which make up elder law. Our approach is to treat you as a partner. We do not address isolated issues; rather, we work with you to understand your goals, your desires, your plans, and your needs. By understanding all aspects of your life, we can then help you plan for the future in a manner that benefits you and your family. If you have concerns relating to Medicaid planning or eligibility, please contact our office today. It’s never too early to plan for your future, nor is it ever too late.
Although Medicaid is a federal program, it is administered at the state level which results in each state having different eligibility requirements. The requirements for qualifying for Medicaid in New Jersey involve specific characteristics of the person, such as age, disability, income, and assets.
To qualify for Medicaid in New Jersey, you must be a United States citizen, legal alien, or permanent resident. Additionally, you must be a resident of the State of New Jersey.
Class of Individual
In addition to the residency requirements to qualify for Medicaid in New Jersey, you must be one of the following: (1) at least 65 years of age, blind, or permanently disabled; (2) a family with dependent children; or, (3) a pregnant woman.
In addition to qualifying as a resident and in one of the above classes of individuals, those seeking Medicaid coverage must satisfy certain income requirements. When determining taxable income, the applicant must include wages, Social Security income, pension payments, retirement account withdrawals, and any other sources of income considered taxable.
For a single applicant or a married couple with only one spouse applying, the applicant’s income cannot exceed $2,250 per month. For a married couple with both spouses applying, the monthly taxable income for the household cannot exceed $3,375. However, when determining eligibility when only one spouse is applying in a married couple, a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance is considered. The Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance exempts up to $3,090 per month of income from the calculation of the combined monthly income. The rationale is that the non-applicant spouse is entitled to a certain amount of income without hindering the Medicaid eligibility of the applicant spouse.
Similar to the income requirement, Medicaid also has an asset requirement. When calculating assets, all non-personal property is to be considered. Thus, cash in bank or investment accounts, stocks, bonds, investment real estate, and all other items that aren’t personal property are considered. However, $858,000 of an applicant’s primary home is exempted from asset calculations when qualifying for Medicaid.
For a single applicant or a married couple with only one spouse applying, the asset limit is $2,000. Comparably, a married couple with both spouses applying is limited to $3,000 in assets. However, similar to the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance, a married couple with one spouse applying for Medicaid can exempt up to $123,600 of assets in the non-applicant spouse’s name.
Planning for Medicaid
Given the strict limitations for income and assets, planning ahead for Medicaid eligibility is a necessity. There are many tools which E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, can use to help you qualify, such as a Qualified Income Trust, Irrevocable Funeral Trusts, Spousal Asset Transfer, annuities, and spending down the remaining assets. While each Medicaid planning instrument is useful on its own, we strive to employ all the necessary tools required to help you achieve your goals while qualifying for Medicaid. Rarely will a single Medicaid planning tool be sufficient, which is why we work with you to understand your plans, goals, and dreams for your life to ensure that you can have it all.
Morris County and Bergen County Medicaid Planning Attorney
At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we have a reputation for providing legal services specifically tailored to you. We will strive to ensure that you achieve your goals, and look forward to partnering with you for years to come. No matter where you are in your life, it’s never too early or too late to plan for your future. Please reach out to our office if you have questions or concerns regarding Medicaid or other matters relating to estate planning.