Many people’s income and their assets are constantly changing in value. I know Medicaid has fixed limits. I have heard there is something called a Medicaid Snapshot Date, but I don’t understand fully understand how this works or how that date is determined or who chooses the date.
A Medicaid snapshot date is relevant to married couples in which just one spouse is a Medicaid applicant for long term care (nursing home Medicaid or home and community based services via a Medicaid waiver). The “snapshot” can be thought of as “taking a photo” of a married couple’s total combined assets. (Medicaid considers a couple’s assets to be jointly owned, though a non-applicant spouse’s IRA might be an exception. Learn more here.) The “snapshot” is then used to calculate the amount of countable assets the non-applicant spouse, also called the community spouse, is able to retain. (There are some assets, such as the couple’s home, that are not counted towards Medicaid’s asset limit). Furthermore, the “snapshot” is used to determine if the applicant spouse is asset eligible for Medicaid. The date the state Medicaid agency uses for the “snapshot” differs based on if the applicant spouse is applying for Medicaid nursing home care versus a HCBS (home and community based services) Medicaid waiver, and may also vary slightly based on the state in which one resides.
According to federal law, the snapshot date for a nursing home Medicaid applicant is the date that the applicant was first institutionalized (in a hospital, a nursing home, or between the two) for a minimum of 30 days without returning home. However, some states may use the first day of the month in which the individual was institutionalized as the snapshot date rather than the actual date the individual was institutionalized. To be clear, the snapshot date is NOT the date one applies for nursing home Medicaid. Furthermore, if an applicant has more than one 30+ day stay in a nursing home / hospital prior to application, the snapshot date will be the first time he / she was institutionalized. For an applicant of a HCBS Medicaid waiver, the application date or the date of the physical (functional) assessment to determine the needed level of care, which is done near the application date, is used for the snapshot date.