Vehicle Exemptions from Medicaid Asset Limits

Last updated: June 03, 2024
Medicaid Long Term Care | Questions and AnswersVehicle Exemptions from Medicaid Asset Limits
medicaidplanner Staff asked 4 years ago

Up to what value is a car exempt from Medicaid’s asset limit? Does this include classic cars and luxury cars?

1 Answers
medicaidplanner Staff answered 4 years ago

Under federal regulations, one vehicle, which in some cases may include a classic car or a luxury car, is exempt from Medicaid’s asset limit regardless of value if specific criteria are met. Previously, a vehicle was exempt only up to a value of $4,500, but this no longer holds true. However, some states may still limit the value of the car for asset exemption purposes. To find out if your state has a value limitation, it is suggested that you contact your state’s Medicaid agency.

Let’s back up; There is an asset limit in order to qualify for long-term care Medicaid. In most states, this limit is $2,000. See state-by-state limits. While this asset limit might sound relatively low, there are several higher valued assets that are often considered exempt. This means they are not counted towards the asset limit. As mentioned above, a vehicle is usually one of these exemptions.

As a general rule of thumb, in order for a vehicle to be exempt from Medicaid’s asset limit, the vehicle must be used for transportation, either by the Medicaid applicant or another household member, such as a non-applicant spouse. The applicant does not have to be the one driving the vehicle. In fact, the “driver” can be a hired person to transport the Medicaid applicant or someone else in the household. To be clear, if a vehicle is not used for transportation, it is not exempt.

If a Medicaid applicant has more than one vehicle, generally the more expensive one is determined to be exempt. However, some states allow a second vehicle as an exemption under certain conditions.

In Florida, one vehicle is exempt, regardless of the value, age, or model. This means that a Medicaid applicant can own a classic or luxury car that is quite pricey and it be exempt. Furthermore, Florida allows a second vehicle as an asset exemption if it is older than 7 years old. However, this vehicle cannot be a luxury nor classic car that is 25 years old or older.

As another example of how vehicle exemption rules and value limits vary by state, in Indiana, there is no value limitation if the vehicle is used to transport the Medicaid applicant to / from medical care, work, or it is a modified vehicle that accommodates a disability. Another exception is if the vehicle is for a non-applicant spouse. If none of the above criteria is met, only $5,000 of the value of the car is exempt. For state-specific information, it is best for one to reach out to their state Medicaid agency.

Returning to the asset limit, when a Medicaid applicant has countable assets over the limit, “excess” assets must be spent down in order to meet the limit, and hence, qualify for Medicaid. Essentially, “spending down” assets consists of turning non-exempt (countable) assets into exempt (non-countable) assets. This can be done a number of ways, such as paying off excess debt, making home safety and accessibility modifications, or purchasing an Irrevocable Funeral Trust. Furthermore, because many states have no limitation on the value of an exempted vehicle, replacing an older car for a newer one and / or one that accommodates disabilities, such as being wheelchair accessible, is a good way to “spend down” countable assets.

Note that this does not mean one should purchase an extremely expensive vehicle. This is because the Medicaid agency might consider the car an investment instead of a means of transportation. If this were the case, the vehicle would not be exempt from Medicaid’s asset limit.

One must exercise caution when spending down assets. Medicaid has a Look-Back Period in which all asset transfers for 60-months immediately preceding the date of one’s long-term care application are scrutinized. If an applicant (or their spouse) has given away assets or sold them for less than fair market value, it is a violation of the Look-Back Rule. Unfortunately, the penalty is a period of Medicaid disqualification.

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