New Mexico Medicaid Eligibility for Long Term Care: Income & Asset Limits

Last updated: June 24, 2021


New Mexico Medicaid Definition

In New Mexico, Medicaid is called Centennial Care and is administered by New Mexico’s Human Services Department (HSD).

Medicaid is a wide-ranging, jointly funded state and federal health care program for low-income individuals of all ages. While the Medicaid program has many different eligibility groups, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility for New Mexico elderly residents, aged 65 and over, and specifically for long term care, whether that be at home, in a nursing home, or in 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 New Mexico seniors may be eligible. These programs have slightly different financial and medical / functional eligibility requirements, as well as varying benefits. Further complicating eligibility are the facts that the requirements vary with marital status and that New Mexico offers multiple pathways towards Medicaid eligibility.

1) Institutional / Nursing Home Medicaid – this is an entitlement program, meaning anyone who is eligible will receive assistance. It is provided only in nursing home facilities.
2) Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) – these programs limit the number of participants. Therefore, wait lists may exist. Services are provided at home, adult day care, or in assisted living. More on waivers.
3) Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled – this is an entitlement program, which means anyone who is eligible will receive assistance. 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 a New Mexico Medicaid program. Alternatively, seniors may take the Medicaid Eligibility TestIMPORTANT: Not meeting all the criteria below does not mean one is ineligible or cannot become eligible for Nevada Medicaid. More.

2021 New Mexico 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)* $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 $4,764 / month (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,382) $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
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 towards the income limit. 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. One exception is Covid-19 stimulus checks (previous and subsequent), which do not count as income and have no impact on an applicant’s eligibility.

When only 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. Income is calculated jointly for a married couple in which one spouse is applying for regular Medicaid. This means a non-applicant spouse’s income is considered for his/her applicant spouse’s eligibility. For additional information on how Medicaid calculates income, click here.

For married couples, with non-applicant spouses’ with insufficient income in which to live, there is what is called a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA). This is the minimum amount of monthly income to which the non-applicant spouse is entitled. This spousal impoverishment provision allows applicant spouses to transfer a portion of their income to their non-applicant spouses in order to bring their income up to a certain level. As of July 2021, this figure falls between $2,177.50 / month (this figure is effective July 2021 through June 2022) and $3,259.50 / month (this figure will increase in January 2022). This rule prevents non-applicant spouses from becoming impoverished and is strictly for married couples with one spouse applying for institutional Medicaid or a HCBS Medicaid waiver. Stated very clearly, this spousal impoverishment rule is not relevant for married couples with one spouse applying for regular Medicaid.

*While there is an income limit in order to be eligible for nursing home Medicaid, a beneficiary cannot keep monthly income up to this level. Instead, one must contribute all of his / her monthly income, minus a personal needs allowance of approximately $74.00 / month, and potentially an income allowance for a non-applicant spouse, towards the cost of nursing home care.


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, and burial accounts (up to $1,500, or up to any amount if it is prepaid and irrevocable). One’s primary home is also exempt if the Medicaid applicant lives in it or has expressed “intent” to return to it, and his / her equity interest in it is not greater than $603,000 (in 2021). (The amount of the home’s value owned by the applicant is his / her equity interest in the home). The home is also exempt, regardless of any other circumstances, if the applicant has a spouse living in it.

For non-applicant spouses of nursing home Medicaid and HCBS Waiver applicants, as of 2021, the community spouse (the non-applicant spouse) can retain up to half of the couple’s joint assets, up to a maximum of $130,380, as the chart indicates above. (Unlike with income, Medicaid considers all assets of a married couple as jointly owned). This, in Medicaid terminology, is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). There is also a minimum CSRA, and if a couples’ joint assets are $31,290 or less, the community spouse is entitled to 100% of it. This resource allowance does not extend to married couples with only one spouse as an applicant for regular Medicaid.

It’s important to note that New Mexico has a Medicaid Look-Back Period. This is a period of 60 months (5 years) that dates back from one’s Medicaid application date. During this time frame, Medicaid checks to ensure no assets were sold or given away for less than they are worth. If a Medicaid applicant, or even their non-applicant spouse, is found to be in violation of the look-back period, there will be a period of Medicaid ineligibility for the applicant.

 For Medicaid long-term care eligibility, an applicant’s functional need is considered. For nursing home Medicaid and many home and community based services via Medicaid waivers, applicants must require a nursing home level of care. Some program benefits may have additional eligibility requirements that must be met. For example, acceptance into a Medicaid waiver program that offers home modifications as a benefit does not mean a program beneficiary is automatically eligible for this benefit. Instead, a needs assessment might be required to demonstrate home modifications are needed for the individual to live safely at home.


Qualifying When Over the Limits

For New Mexico elderly residents, aged 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, are for Medicaid applicants who are over the income limit, but still cannot afford to pay for their long-term care. (For New Mexico Medicaid purposes, a Miller Trust is often called an Income Diversion Trust.) This type of trust offers a way for individuals over the Medicaid income limit to still qualify for long-term care Medicaid, as money deposited into a QIT does not count towards Medicaid’s income limit. In basic terms, one’s excess income (over the Medicaid limit) is directly deposited into a trust, in which a trustee is named, giving that individual legal control of the money. The money in the account can only be used for very specific purposes, such as paying a spousal income allowance and contributing towards the cost of nursing home care, HCBS long term care, and medical expenses accrued by the Medicaid enrollee. The account must be irreversible, meaning once it has been established, it cannot be changed or canceled, and upon death of the Medicaid participant or in the event of Medicaid disenrollment, the remainder of the funds must be paid to the state of New Mexico.

Unfortunately, Income Diversion Trusts do not assist one in spending down extra assets to qualify for Medicaid. Said another way, if one meets the income requirement for Medicaid eligibility, but not the asset requirement, the above option cannot assist one in reducing their assets that are over the limit. However, one can “spend down” assets by spending excess assets on non-countable ones, such as home improvements (replacing a leaky roof, updating the heating/plumbing), 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 New Mexico Medicaid Programs

New Mexico Centennial Care Community Benefit – Intended to encourage independent living at home or in the community, a variety of supportive services are provided. These include assisted living, adult day health, home health aides, personal care assistance, and home modifications. Program participants have the choice of self-directing their own care, including hiring a relative to provide care assistance, or going through a provider agency.


How to Apply for New Mexico Medicaid

There are several ways in which seniors can go about applying for Centennial Care in New Mexico. These options include applying online at Yes New Mexico or over the phone by calling 1-855-637-6574. In addition, persons can download an application and return the completed application by fax to 1-855-804-8960, mail it to Central ASPEN Scanning Area (CASA), PO Box 830, Bernalillo, NM 87004, or drop it off at their local Human Services Department (HSD) Income Support Division (ISD) office. For additional program information or for assistance, seniors can call the ISD Customer Service Center at 1-800-283-4465.

New Mexico Medicaid applicants should not return their completed applications without being certain that they meet all eligibility requirements (discussed above). Seniors who are uncertain as to whether they meet the criteria, or have income and / or assets over the limit(s), should consider Medicaid planning for the best chance of acceptance into the Medicaid program. Applying for Centennial Care can be complicated, confusing, and a lengthy process. To learn more about applying for long-term care Medicaid, click here.

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