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

Last updated: June 24, 2021


Nevada Medicaid Definition

In Nevada, Medicaid is administered by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicaid is a wide-ranging, jointly funded state and federal health care program for low-income individuals of all ages. While there are many different eligibility groups, this page is focused strictly on Medicaid eligibility for elderly Nevada residents who are 65 years of age and older. This page will specifically cover long term care Medicaid, whether that is in one’s home, a nursing home, or an 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 Nevada seniors may be eligible. These programs have slightly different financial and medical eligibility requirements, as well as varying benefits. Further complicating eligibility are the facts that the criteria vary with marital status and that Nevada offers multiple pathways towards eligibility.

1) Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid – This is an entitlement (anyone who is eligible will receive assistance) program. It is provided only in nursing homes.
2) Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) – Waivers limit the number of participants. Therefore, wait lists may exist. Services are provided at home, adult day care, or in assisted living. More about waivers here.
3) Regular Medicaid / Medical Assistance to Aged, Blind and Disabled (MAABD) – This is an entitlement (anyone who is eligible will receive assistance) program. It is provided at home or adult day care.

The table below provides a quick reference to allow seniors to determine if they might be immediately eligible for long term care from an Nevada Medicaid program. Alternatively, persons can take the Medicaid Eligibility TestIMPORTANT: Not meeting all the criteria below does not mean one is not eligible or cannot become eligible for Nevada Medicaid. More.

2021 Nevada 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 $2,382 / month* $2,000 Nursing Home $4,764 / month (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,382 / month)* $4,000 (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,000) Nursing Home $2,382 / month for applicant* $2,000 for applicant & $130,380 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $2,382 / month $2,000 Nursing Home or At Risk of Nursing Home Placement within 30 Days $4,764 / month (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,382 / month) $4,000 (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,000) Nursing Home $2,382 / month for applicant $2,000 for applicant & $130,380 for non-applicant Nursing Home or At Risk of Nursing Home Placement within 30 Days
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $794 / month $2,000 None $1,191 / month $3,000 None $1,191 / month $3,000 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, Veteran’s benefits, alimony payments, pension payments, Social Security Disability Income, Social Security Income, IRA withdrawals, and stock dividends. Covid-19 stimulus checks (both previous and future) are not counted as income and have no impact on Medicaid eligibility.

When just one spouse of a married couple is applying for nursing home Medicaid or a HCBS Medicaid waiver, only the income of the applicant is counted. Said another way, the income of the non-applicant spouse is disregarded and does not affect the applicant spouse’s eligibility. In the case of one spouse of a married couple applying for regular Medicaid, the income of both spouses is considered for the applicant’s eligibility. For more information on how Medicaid counts income, click here.

There is a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), which is the minimum amount of monthly income to which a non-applicant spouse of a nursing home Medicaid applicant or HCBS waiver applicant is entitled. As of July 1, 2021, this figure is $2,177.50 / month, and is set to increase again in July of 2022. Based on the shelter and utility costs of a non-applicant, he/she may be entitled to an even higher monthly spousal allowance. As of January 2021, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance is $3,259.50. (This figure will increase again in January 2022). This maintenance allowance for non-applicant spouses allows Medicaid applicants to transfer income to their non-applicant spouses to ensure they have sufficient funds with which to live. This also effectively lowers the amount applicant spouses have to pay towards their cost of care. This rule is not relevant for non-applicant spouses of those applying for regular Medicaid.

*Please note that while there is an income limit for nursing home Medicaid, a beneficiary is not able to keep monthly income up to this level. Instead, with the exception of a personal needs allowance of approximately $35.00 / month, and potentially a non-applicant spousal income allowance, all of beneficiary’s income must be paid towards the cost of nursing home care.


What Defines “Assets”

Countable (non-exempt) assets, also called liquid assets, include cash and most anything that can easily be converted to cash to pay for the cost of long-term care. Other non-exempt assets include stocks, bonds, investments, credit union, savings, and checking accounts, and real estate in which one does not reside.

For Medicaid eligibility purposes, there are also many assets that are considered exempt (non-countable). Exemptions include personal belongings, such as clothing, household furnishings, an automobile, and irrevocable burial trusts. One’s primary home is also exempt, as long as the Medicaid applicant either lives in it or has “intent” to live there, and his / her home equity interest is under $603,000 (in 2021). (Equity interest is the amount of the home’s value owned by the applicant). Another exception is if the applicant has a spouse who lives in the home. In this case, it is exempt regardless of where the applicant lives or his / her equity interest in the home.

As with the income allowance for non-applicant spouses, there is a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) that is only applicable for non-applicant spouses of those applying for HCBS Medicaid waivers and Medicaid nursing home care. As of 2021, the community spouse (the non-applicant spouse) can retain up to one half of the couples’ joint assets, up to a maximum of $130,380, as shown in the chart above. If one half of the couple’s joint assets are $26,076 or less, the non-applicant spouse can retain 100% of the assets. To be clear, this resource allowance does not apply to non-applicant spouses of those applying for regular Medicaid.

When considering assets, one should be aware that Nevada has a Medicaid Look-Back Period, which is 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. Please note, this also includes gifts, as well as asset transfers one’s spouse has made. It is important to mention that the IRS gift tax exemption has nothing to do with Medicaid. Unfortunately, some people think this rule extends to Medicaid and they unknowingly violate Medicaid’s look back rule. If one is found to be in violation of the look-back period, a penalty period will be established, and one will be ineligible for Medicaid for the duration of the penalty period.

 For long-term care Medicaid eligibility, an applicant’s functional need is also considered. For nursing home Medicaid and many HCBS Medicaid Waivers, a nursing facility level of care (NFLOC) is required. Furthermore, some program benefits may have additional eligibility criteria specific to the particular benefit. For example, in order for a Medicaid Waiver to cover the cost of a personal emergency response system, it may be required that a beneficiary need it in order to safely live independently.


Qualifying When Over the Limits

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

1) Qualified Income Trusts (QIT’s) – QIT’s, also referred to as Miller Trusts or Income Cap Trusts, are for Medicaid applicants who are over the income limit, but still cannot afford to pay for their long-term care. This type of trust offers a way for individuals with “excess” income to still qualify for long-term care Medicaid, as money deposited into a QIT does not count towards Medicaid’s income limit. In simple terms, one’s income is directly deposited into a trust, in which a trustee is named, giving that individual legal control of the money. The account must be irreversible, meaning once it has been established, it cannot be changed or canceled, and upon death of the Medicaid participant, any remaining funds must be paid to the state of Nevada. In addition, the money in the account can only be used for very specific purposes, such as paying a Medicaid participant’s personal needs allowance, a community spousal income allowance, and long term care services / medical expenses accrued by the Medicaid enrollee.

Unfortunately, Income Cap Trusts are not helpful if one has assets over the Medicaid eligibility limit. Said another way, if one meets the income requirements for Medicaid eligibility, but not the asset requirement, the above option cannot assist one in reducing and meeting the asset limit. However, one can “spend down” assets by spending excess assets on non-countable assets, such as home modifications (wheelchair ramps, roll-in showers, and stair lifts), vehicle modifications (wheelchair lifts, adaptive control devices, and floor modifications to allow one to drive from a wheelchair), 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, as well as to protect their home from Medicaid’s estate recovery programRead more or connect with a Medicaid planner.


Specific Nevada Medicaid Programs

1) HCB Frail Elderly Waiver– This home and community based waiver for frail seniors, abbreviated HCBW-FE, is a nursing home diversion program. Benefits to help promote independent living include adult day care, housecleaning, preparation of meals, and respite care, and augmented personal care (care services and supports in assisted living).

2) HCBW for Persons with Physical Disabilities (HCBW-PD) – Also called the Physical Disability Waiver, program participants are able to receive supportive services in their home or in an assisted living facility. Personal emergency response systems, home modifications, personal care assistance, and durable medical equipment are all program benefits.

3) Personal Care Services (PCS) Program – Intended for those who are disabled or have a chronic health condition, program participants can hire and manage their own personal care aide, including certain family members, to assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). Examples of assistance include bathing, mobility, eating, housekeeping, and meal preparation.


How to Apply for Nevada Medicaid

Seniors wishing to apply for Medicaid in Nevada can apply online at Access Nevada, download an “Application for Assistance- Medicaid, MAABD, SNAP” here, or can call their local Division of Welfare and Supportive Services office for an application to be mailed to them. One’s local office can also provide more information about Medicaid programs and assist with the application process. For office locations and contact information, click here. Alternatively, persons can call 1-800-992-0900 to reach the Customer Service Voice Response Unit. Seniors in Northern Nevada can also call 775-684-7200, and seniors in Southern Nevada can call 702-486-1646. In addition, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers in one’s area may be helpful.

Please note that applying for Medicaid in Nevada can be complicated, particularly since there is more than one program relevant to aging seniors. In addition, it is imperative that one be certain all eligibility requirements, as discussed above, are met prior to application. Not meeting the criteria can lead to a denial or delay of benefits. For those who are uncertain of their eligibility status, or know they are over the income and / or asset limits(s), Medicaid planning is highly suggested. Applying for Medicaid entails more than just submitting an application. For instance, supportive documentation must also be included with the application. For more information about applying for long-term care Medicaid, click here.

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