Texas Medicaid Income & Asset Limits for Nursing Homes & In-Home Long Term Care

Last updated: May 31, 2018

Texas Medicaid Definition

Medicaid is a wide-ranging, jointly funded state and federal health care program for low-income individuals of all ages. However, this page is focused on Medicaid eligibility, specifically for Texas residents, aged 65 and over, and specifically for long term care, whether that be at home, in a nursing home or in assisted living. Most Medicaid plans in the state of Texas are provided by Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).  Texas managed Medicaid is often referred to as STAR+PLUS.

  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 elderly Texans 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 Texas 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 Texas 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 Texas 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 $2,000 Nursing Home $4,500 / month $3,000 Nursing Home $2,250 / month for applicant $2,000 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Nursing Home
Medicaid Waivers / Home and Community Based Services $2,250 / month $2,000 Help w/ 2 ADLs $4,500 / month $3,000 Help w/ 2 ADLs $2,250 / month for applicant $2,000 for applicant & $123,600 for non-applicant Help w/ 2 ADLs
Regular Medicaid / Aged Blind and Disabled $759 / month $2,000 None $1,029/ month $3,000 None $759 / 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 $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).

In Texas, there is a 5-year Medicaid Look-Back Period, which is the period of time that the state looks back on asset transfers. If during this time frame, a Medicaid applicant has given away assets or sold them under fair market value, a period of Medicaid ineligibility may ensue.


Qualifying When Over the Limits

Texas has a Medicaid eligibility income cap, and unlike many states, does not allow one to “spend down” excess income on medical expenses in order to qualify for Medicaid. However, for Texas 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) – A QIT, also referred to as a Miller Trust, is an irrevocable trust, which allows a way for one to become eligible for long-term Medicaid services even if he or she is over the income limit. In a nutshell, a Medicaid applicant’s income over the Medicaid limit is deposited into a QIT and is not counted towards Medicaid eligibility. A designated trustee manages the account, and the trustee can use the funds for only designated purposes, such as paying unreimbursed medical expenses of the Medicaid enrollee.

Make note, Qualified Income Trusts do not assist one who has assets over the Medicaid qualification limit. Said another way, if one meets the income requirements for Medicaid eligibility, but not the asset requirement, Qualified Income Trusts have no impact on one’s assets. However, one can still meet the asset limit by by “spending down” 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 Texas Medicaid Programs

Texas offers its residents several Medicaid programs, some of which are entitlements and others have limited enrollment. Nursing home care is an entitlement for all Texas residents that require it and meet the program’s financial criteria (outlined in the table above).

The Star Plus Waiver is a limited enrollment, managed care program that covers assisted living, adult foster care and many in-home supports to help beneficiaries avoid nursing home placement.

The Community First Choice Program is an entitlement program that, in addition to personal care, provides in-home support such as meal delivery, medical alert services and chore services.

Primary Home Care is another program which provides for personal care in the home. However, this program allows participants to choose their caregivers and select family members can be hired as caregivers.

Day Activity and Health Services is an adult day care program that helps families care for their loved ones outside of nursing homes by paying for daytime supervisions and health services during normal working hours.

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