Maine Medicaid (MaineCare) Income & Asset Limits for Nursing Homes & Long Term Care

Last updated: May 15, 2018

Maine Medicaid Definition

Medicaid in Maine is called MaineCare. Medicaid is a wide-ranging, jointly funded federal and state health care program for low-income individuals of any age. However, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility for elderly Maine residents who are a minimum of 65 years old who require long-term care, whether that is at home, in a nursing home or in assisted living facility.

  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 Maine seniors may be eligible. These programs have medical and functional eligibility requirements, although the exact requirements differ, as do the programs’ benefits. Further complicating eligibility are the facts that the criteria vary with marital status and that Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 $2,250 / month $10,000 Nursing Home $3,375 / month $15,000 Nursing Home $2,250 / month for applicant $10,000 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $2,250 / month $10,000 Help w/ 2 ADLs $3,375 / month $15,000 Help w/ 2 ADLs $2,250 / month for applicant $10,000 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Help w/ 2 ADLs
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $1,012 / month $10,000 None $1,372/ month $6,000 None $1,012 / month $10,000 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 $858,000 (in 2018). For married couples, as of 2018, the community spouse (the non-applicant spouse) can retain up to a maximum of $123,600 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).

Make note, Maine is unique in that the state allows a single individual an exemption of $8,000 in liquid assets and married couples an exemption of $12,000. (Liquid assets include checking and savings accounts). These amounts are in addition to the Medicaid asset limit of $2,000 for a single individual and $3,000 for a married couple. Hence, the $10,000 asset limit shown above for a single senior and the $15,000 asset limit for a married couple in which both spouses are applying for Medicaid.

It’s important to be aware that Maine has a 5-year Medicaid Look-Back Period. This is a period of time in which Medicaid checks to see if any assets were sold, gifted, or transferred. If any assets were sold, transferred, or given away under fair market value during this time frame, violating the look-back period, a period of Medicaid ineligibility for long-term care will ensue.


Qualifying When Over the Limits

For Maine 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 – This program allows seniors who meet all other Medicaid eligibility requirements, but have income over the limit to still be eligible for Medicaid if they have high medical expenses. Often referred to as a “Spend-Down” Program, one’s “excess income,” (their income over the Medicaid eligibility limit), is used to cover medical bills. Examples include Medicare premiums, eyeglasses, dental services, and doctor visits. Once one has met their spend-down, sometimes called a deductible, one becomes eligible for Medicaid.

Make note, 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, there are several ways one can “spend down” non-exempt assets and still qualify for MaineCare.
Examples include paying for 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 Maine Medicaid Programs

MaineCare covers the cost of nursing home care for all state residents that 1) require the level of care provided in a nursing home and 2) are financially eligible for the program. However, for some residents MaineCare will instead pay for home care, home modifications, adult day care and other supportive services that allows a nursing home-qualified person to live in their home. This service is provided through the Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities Medicaid Waiver.

Another non-nursing home program relevant to seniors is a benefit called Consumer Directed Attendant Services or CDAS. Under CDAS, a beneficiary can receive assistance with their activities of daily living (attendant care) in their home. The beneficiary is also given the option to “consumer direct” their care provider. Stated another way, the beneficiary can choose their care provider and can even hire family members to provide care.

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