Illinois Medicaid Eligibility for Long Term Care: Income & Asset Limits

Last updated: May 14, 2018

Illinois Medicaid Definition

Medicaid in Illinois is commonly called the Medical Assistance Program. The program is a wide-ranging, jointly funded state and federal health care program for low-income individuals of all ages. That being said, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility, specifically for Illinois residents, aged 65 and over, and specifically for long term care, whether that be at home, in a nursing home or in assisted living.

  The American Council on Aging now offers a free, quick and easy Medicaid eligibility test for seniors.

 

Income & Asset Limits for Eligibility

There are several different Medicaid long-term care programs for which Illinois seniors may be eligible. These programs have slightly different eligibility requirements and benefits. Further complicating eligibility are the facts that the criteria vary with marital status and that Illinois offers multiple pathways towards eligibility.

1) Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid – is an entitlement (anyone who is eligible will receive assistance) & is provided only in nursing homes.
2) Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services – Limited number of participants. Provided at home, adult day care or in assisted living.
3) Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled – is an entitlement and is provided at home or adult day care.

Eligibility for these programs is complicated by the facts that the criteria vary with marital status and that Illinois offers multiple pathways towards eligibility. The table below provides a quick reference to allow seniors to determine if they are immediately eligible for long term care from a Medicaid program. Alternatively, take the Medicaid Eligibility TestIMPORTANT, not meeting all the criteria below does not mean one is not eligible or cannot become eligible. More.

2018 Illinois Medicaid Long Term Care Eligibility for Seniors
Type of Medicaid Single Married (both spouses applying) Married (one spouse applying)
Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required Income Limit Asset Limit Level of Care Required
Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid $1,012 / month $2,000 Nursing Home $1,372 / month $3,000 Nursing Home $1,012 / month for applicant $2,000 for applicant & $109,560 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $1,012 / month $2,000 Help w/2 ADLs $1,372 / month $3,000 Help w/2 ADLs $1,012 / month for applicant $2,000 for applicant & $109,560 for non-applicant Help w/2 ADLs
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $1,012 / month $2,000 None $1,372 / month No limit None $1,012 / month $2,000 None

 

What Defines “Income”

For Medicaid eligibility purposes, any income that a Medicaid applicant receives is counted. To clarify, this income can come from any source. Examples include employment wages, alimony payments, pension payments, Social Security Disability Income, Social Security Income, IRA withdrawals, and stock dividends. However, when only one spouse of a married couple is applying for Medicaid, only the income of the applicant is counted. Said another way, the income of the non-applicant spouse is disregarded. There is also a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), which is the minimum amount of monthly income to which the non-applicant spouse is entitled. (As of July 2018, this figure falls between $2,057.50 / month and $3,090 / month). This rule allows the Medicaid applicant to transfer income to the non-applicant spouse to ensure he or she has sufficient funds with which to live.

 

What Defines “Assets”

Countable assets include cash, stocks, bonds, investments, credit union, savings, and checking accounts, and real estate in which one does not reside. However, for Medicaid eligibility, there are many assets that are considered exempt (non-countable). Exemptions include personal belongings, household furnishings, an automobile, irrevocable burial trusts, and one’s primary home, given the Medicaid applicant or their spouse lives in the home and the home is valued under $572,000 (in 2018). For married couples, as of 2018, the community spouse (the non-applicant spouse) can retain up to a maximum of $109,560 of the couple’s joint assets, as the chart indicates above. This, in Medicaid speak, is referred to as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).

One should be aware that Illinois has a Medicaid Look-Back Period, which is a period of 60 months that dates back from one’s Medicaid application date. During this time frame, Medicaid checks to ensure no assets were sold or given away under fair market value. If one is found to be in violation of the look-back period, a period of Medicaid ineligibility will ensue.

 

Qualifying When Over the Limits

For Illinois residents, 65 and over who do not meet the eligibility requirements in the table above, there are other ways to qualify for Medicaid.

1) Medically Needy Pathway – In a nutshell, one may still be eligible for Medicaid services even if they are over the income limit if they have high medical bills. In Illinois, this program is often called a “spend down” program. The way this program works is one’s “excess income,” (their income over the Medicaid eligibility limit) is used to cover medical bills, such as medical care/treatment/supplies, Medicare premiums, and prescription drugs. Illinois has a one-month “spend-down” period, so once an individual has paid their excess income down to the Medicaid eligibility limit for the month, one will qualify for Medicaid for the remainder of the month.

Unfortunately, the Medically Needy Pathway does not assist one in spending down extra assets for Medicaid qualification. Said another way, if one meets the income requirements for Medicaid eligibility, but not the asset requirement, the above program cannot assist one in “spending down” extra assets. However, one can “spend down” assets by spending excess assets on non-countable assets, such as home modifications, like the addition of wheelchair ramps or stair lifts, prepaying funeral and burial expenses, and paying off debt.

2) Medicaid Planning – the majority of persons considering Medicaid are “over-income” or “over-asset” or both, but still cannot afford their cost of care.  For persons in this situation, Medicaid planning exists. By working with a Medicaid planning professional, families can employ a variety of strategies to help them become Medicaid eligible. Read more or connect with a Medicaid planner.

 

Specific Illinois Medicaid Programs

While in all states, Medicaid will pay for nursing home care, Illinois also offers Medicaid waivers, which provide for “home and community-based services” (HCBS).

1) Waiver for Supportive Living Facilities – This waiver provides support for disabled or frail, elderly persons in “supportive living facilities” which are less formally called assisted living residences.

2) HCBS Waiver for the Elderly – This waiver provides limited support to help seniors remain living at home, such as adult day care, homemaker assistance and medical alert services.

3) Illinois Community Care – The CC Program has slightly different financial eligibility criteria then the other programs. It provides for many of the same in-home benefits and offers some consumer direction of services.

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