Nursing home residents do not automatically have to sell their homes in order to qualify for Medi-Cal, but that doesn’t mean the house is completely protected. The state will likely put a lien on the house while the resident is living and attempt to recover the property after the resident has passed away.
Medi-Calwill not count a nursing home resident’s home as an asset when determining eligibility for Medi-Cal as long as the resident intends to return home (in some states, the nursing home resident must prove a likelihood of returning home). In addition, the resident’s equity interest in the home must be less than $585,000, with the states having the option of raising this limit to $878,000 (figures are adjusted annually for inflation; these are for 2019).
The equity value of the home is the fair market value minus any debts secured by the home, such as a mortgage or a home equity loan. For example, if your home has a fair market value of $400,000 and an outstanding mortgage of $100,000, the equity value is $300,000. Your equity interest depends on whether you own the home by yourself or with someone else. If you own the home by yourself, your equity interest is the entire equity value. If you own your home jointly with your spouse or someone else, your equity interest is only half of the home’s equity value.
The home equity rule does not apply if the Medi-Cal applicant’s spouse or a child who is under 21 or is blind or disabled lives in the home.
While the house may not need to be sold in order to qualify for Medi-Cal, state Medicaid agencies will likely place a lien on any real estate owned by a Medi-Cal beneficiary during his or her life. The state cannot impose a lien if a spouse, a disabled or blind child, a child under age 21, or a sibling with an equity interest in the house is living in the house.
Once a lien is placed on the property, if the property is sold while the Medi-Cal beneficiary is living, not only will the beneficiary cease to be eligible for Medi-Cal due to the cash from the sale, but the beneficiary would have to satisfy the lien by paying back the state for its coverage of care to date. In some states, the lien may be removed upon the beneficiary’s death. In other states, the state can collect on the lien after the Medi-Cal recipient dies. Check with your attorney to see how your local agency handles this.
Even if the state did not place a lien on the home during the Medi-Cal beneficiary’s life, the home may still be subject to estate recovery after the Medi-Cal recipient’s death, again depending on the state.
There are steps you can take to protect your home. For more information please contact us by phone 818-905-0601, email firstname.lastname@example.org or our contact form on our website.