What happens if the Medicaid applicant receives an unexpected inheritance?

Effect of an Inheritance and Medicaid

Because inheritance funds get counted as an individual’s monthly income, it’s important to consider the strict financial requirements for Medicaid eligibility.

According to the American Council on Aging, the 2022 Medicaid eligibility rules state a single individual 65 years or older cannot have a monthly income greater than $2,523.

For married couples with both spouses as Medicaid applicants, each spouse would be allowed $2,523 each for a total of $5,046 a month.

medicaid program
However, married couples with only one spouse applying for Medicaid only count the applicant’s income, so as long as the applicant makes less than $2,523 a month, they should meet the financial requirements with no problem.
Because $2,523 serves as the maximum amount of allowable monthly income for a single person, receiving an inheritance can push your income into Medicaid ineligibility.

Inform the Right People

Assuming the inheritance will be a one-time payment, you can contact your state’s Medicaid agency and inform them of the planned income change. If the inheritance puts your monthly income over the limit, you’ll be ineligible for only that month.
Find an attorney that specializes in elder law. They can present options about how the inheritance can be invested and protected so you don’t lose your Medicaid benefits.
Timing plays a key role here. Suppose you’re scheduled to receive an inheritance of $50,000 on March 1. As a Medicaid recipient, you would then have the entire month of March to spend the inheritance funds without losing your Medicaid benefits.
But if you’re scheduled to receive the funds on March 30, your window to act will be much shorter. And if you haven’t spent the inheritance by April 1, your eligibility will be lost until you can get your income back under the monthly $2,523.
While the time frame can be stressful, the best way to retain your Medicaid eligibility with an unexpected inheritance comes down to responsible spending.

Responsible Spending

First of all, check with an attorney specializing in elder law with any questions about state inheritance laws and applicable state Medicaid requirements. Then start planning for how to best use the inheritance funds.

For starters, put the inheritance funds towards your monthly expenses first, including any medical or nursing home payments. Next, use the funds to address any outstanding debts or balances. Then consider upcoming expenses such as funeral and burial requirements. In accordance with the inheritance laws in your state, look to see if you can gift the remaining inheritance to your spouse or other family members. It’s possible to set up a trust in a grandchild’s name, for example, or maybe use the funds to address a longstanding medical bill of another family member.

Of course, you can also look into using the inheritance funds to travel or some other form of entertainment, but it’s best to address the big expenses first.

To find out more about inheritance and Medicaid, contact The Hill Group LLC today.