New York Medicaid Eligibility for Long Term Care: 2018 Income & Asset Limits

Last updated: June 11, 2018

New York Medicaid Definition

Medicaid is a wide-ranging, state and federally funded, health care program for low-income individuals of all ages. While there are several different eligibility groups, including pregnant women, children, and disabled individuals, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility for New York senior residents (aged 65 and over). Specifically, the focus will be on long-term care, whether that be at home, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living facility.

Make note, Medicaid in New York is sometimes referred to as Medicaid Managed Care. Medicaid for the Disabled, Aged or Blind (DAB) is also known as NON-MAGI.

  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 York seniors may be eligible. These programs have differing functional and financial eligibility requirements, as well as varying benefits.
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 (HCBS) – is not an entitlement (there are a limited number of participants) & is provided at home, adult day care, or in assisted living.
3) Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled – is an entitlement (anyone who is eligible will receive assistance) & 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 New York offers multiple pathways towards eligibility. 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 York Medicaid program. Alternatively, take the Medicaid Eligibility Test.  IMPORTANT, not meeting all of the requirements below does not mean one is ineligible for Medicaid or cannot become eligible. More.

2018 New York 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 $842 / month $15,150 Nursing Home $1,233 / month $22,000 Nursing Home $842 / month for applicant $15,150 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $842 / month $15,150 Help w/ 2 ADLs $1,233 / month $22,000 Help w/ 2 ADLs $842 / month for applicant $15,150 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Help w/ 2 ADLs
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $842 / month $15,150 None $1,233 / month $22,000 None $842 / month $15,150 None

 

What Defines “Income”

For Medicaid eligibility purposes, all income that one receives from any source is counted towards the income limit. This may include employment wages, alimony payments, pension payments, Social Security Disability Income, Social Security Income, gifts, and payments from annuities and IRAs. Make note, when only one spouse of a married couple is applying for Medicaid, the income of the non-applicant spouse is not counted, only the income of the applicant. Put another way, the income of the non-applicant spouse is not factored into the applicant spouse’s eligibility.

For married couples with just one spouse applying for nursing home Medicaid or a Medicaid waiver, a portion of the applicant’s income can be transferred to the non-applicant spouse (also referred to as the community spouse or the healthy spouse). As of 2018, up to $3,090 / month can be transferred to the community spouse. If the healthy spouse has monthly income of their own, the applicant spouse can only transfer an amount that brings the community spouse’s monthly income to $3,090. This is called the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMNA) and is intended to prevent spousal impoverishment.

What Defines “Assets”

Countable assets (often called resources) include cash, stocks, bonds, investments, vacation homes, and savings and checking accounts. However, for Medicaid eligibility purposes, there are many assets that are considered exempt (non-countable). Exemptions include IRA’s and 401K’s in payout status, personal belongings, household items, a vehicle, burial funds up to $1,500, pre-paid funeral agreements (given they cannot be refunded), and one’s primary home, as long as the Medicaid applicant lives in the home and the equity value is under $858,000. However, there is one exception to the home exemption rule, which is if the applicant’s spouse lives in the home. If this is the case, the house is exempt regardless of the equity value.

In order to protect a non-applicant spouse from having too little from which to live, there is a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). The CSRA allows the healthy spouse to retain a higher portion of the couples’ assets. As of 2018, the community spouse can retain up to $123,600 of the couple’s joint assets, as the chart indicates above.

It is vital that one does not give away assets or sell them for less than fair market value in an attempt to meet Medicaid’s asset limit. This is because New York has a Medicaid Look-Back Period, which is a period of 60 months (5 years) that dates back from one’s Medicaid application date. During this time frame, Medicaid checks all past transfers to ensure no assets were gifted or sold for less than they are worth. If one is found to be in violation of the look-back period, one will be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time.

 

Qualifying When Over the Limits

For New York 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. Also called the Medicaid Excess Income 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 supplies, prescription drugs, and doctors visits. Once one has paid down their excess income to the Medicaid eligibility limit, Medicaid will kick in for the month. Other names for the Medicaid Excess Income Program include Spenddown Program and Surplus Income Program. This program, regardless of name, provides a means to “spend down” one’s extra income in order to qualify 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 ways in which one can “spend down” assets and still meet Medicaid’s asset limit. For instance, one can use their excess resources to pay past due medical bills, dating back as far as six years, pay for in-home care, and make home modifications to improve safety and independence, such as installing wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, and redoing a bathroom to be wheelchair accessible. One can also prepay funeral and burial expenses, as well as pay off their mortgage or credit card debt.

Again, it is very important assets are not gifted or sold cheaply in order to meet Medicaid’s asset limit. Doing so is in violation of Medicaid’s Look-Back Period and can result in a period of Medicaid ineligibility. (More information can be found above under the asset section).

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 New York Medicaid Programs

1. New York Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) Program Waiver – MLTC is intended for seniors who require a skilled nursing facility level of care, but who prefer to live at home or in an assisted living facility. Long-term care supports are provided to promote independence, including personal care assistance, adult day care, meal delivery, and home modifications. For additional benefits and eligibility requirements, click here.

2. New York Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) – CDPAP can be thought of more as a program option, rather than a program in and of itself, and is available for seniors who are enrolled in the MLTC program or the Community First Choice Option. Through this option, program participants are able to hire the personal care assistant of their choosing, including select relatives. For more information, click here.

3. New York Assisted Living Program (ALP) – ALP pays for services in assisted living for seniors who require a nursing home level of care. These services might include skilled nursing, personal care, personal emergency response systems, and housecleaning. To learn more about ALP, click here.

4. New York Community First Choice Option (CFCO) – This is an option that allows elderly individuals to receive long-term home and community based services under the state Medicaid plan. These benefits might include assistance with daily living activities, home health aids, and durable medical equipment. For eligibility criteria click here.

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