There is a lot of misinformation about qualifying for Medi-Cal for long term care help. Many people hear, “You can only have $2000. Get rid of the rest.”
Also, many people think you can hide assets from Medi-Cal. It has been my personal experience that they know everything. You can’t hide your cash or your financial history from them.
The truth is, spending down your assets is not that simple. Medi-Cal categorizes your assets into countable and non-countable assets. Non-countable assets are sometimes called exempt assets.
For example, you can own a home and a car, and still qualify for Medi-Cal. The principle balance on your IRA is not countable. (But the income is.)
There are too many variables for each individual’s situation to be able to give advice here, but below is a short list of facts, and a link to a three page fact sheet that I’ve put together to give you a foundational knowledge.
1.) Currently, there is a 30 month look back period. This means that even if you use a valid form of transfer (proper gifting, or an irrevocable trust), Medi-Cal will look back for 30 months and see what you did. If you wait for month 31+ to apply for Medi-Cal, this will be no big deal. But if you apply before the look back period is up, you will not qualify AND be “grounded” for a period of time. WHY? Medi-Cal is the state and federal government, which is taxpayer money, and if you have the cash assets, their thinking is, “Why does the taxpayer need to pay for your care if you can do some of it yourself?” It is assumed that the California legislature will finish passing regulations in 2019 that makes this look back period 60 months (5 years). Planning ahead is a must here.
2.) After you pass away, if your home is in a revocable living trust, Medi-Cal will not seek repayment via your home. That goes for any other asset you have that is not part of your probate estate. (Yet another good reason to form a trust if you own real property.)
3.) If you are married and your spouse needs help with long term care, your local Medi-Cal representative can help you apply. You will not be left in the cold.
Click the link above to download a fact sheet for your convenience.