Medicaid Estate Recovery- What Should the Community Spouse do to Protect Herself?

When a husband or wife is approved for long-term Medicaid benefits, it is imperative that the healthy spouse/community spouse take steps to protect the recipient’s Medicaid eligibility.

After the Medicaid recipient is found eligibility for benefits, he is only permitted to have $1,500 in non-exempt assets in his name in order to maintain eligibility. Hence, it is critical that any surplus resources are transferred to the community spouse/healthy spouse before the annual review is conducted in one year’s time. If the couple owns real estate jointly, it is also recommended to transfer that real estate into the name of the healthy spouse/community spouse only to avoid estate recovery in the future.

The question then becomes how to avoid an improper transfer and resulting penalty period should the the healthy spouse/community spouse die before the Medicaid recipient. This requires proper estate planning by the healthy spouse/community spouse so as not to take away the recipient’s rights to property under Ohio law as a surviving spouse.

Ohio Medicaid law is constantly changing. Please consult an Ohio Medicaid attorney if you are considering transferring assets before or after Medicaid approval.