To qualify for MassHealth benefits, seniors (age 65 or older) must meet strict financial eligibility requirements, including both a limit on countable assets as well as income. If you’re married and live with your spouse, both of your incomes and assets count in deciding if you can get MassHealth.
Countable income includes:
- Wages, salary, tips, commissions (before deductions)
- Self-employment income (minus expenses)
- Social Security benefits
- Railroad retirement benefits
- Pensions and annuities
- Federal veterans’ benefits (minus allowed exclusions)
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income (minus expenses)
Countable assets include but are not limited to:
- Bank accounts
- Certificates of deposit
- Mutual funds
- Stocks and bonds
- Value of real property, except your home, if it meets eligibility requirements
- Individual Retirement Accounts, Keogh Plans
- Cash surrender value of life insurance
- Vehicles – One vehicle per household is non-countable if it is for the use of the individual living in the community. The equity value of all other vehicles is a countable asset.
- Revocable Trusts (regulations regarding trusts are complex)
- Retroactive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance (RSDI). Benefit Payments beginning in the 8th month after receipt. (Non-countable in the month of receipt and for the next six months if deposited in a separately identifiable account.)
The basic rule for MassHealth long-term care eligibility is that if you apply, whether single or married, you can have only $2,000 in countable assets in your name. If your spouse plans to continue living in the community, your spouse is allowed to keep approximately $137,400 in their name. (figures updated 2022)
If you apply to MassHealth with more assets than this, you will be required to spend down those assets to the applicable limit, usually on healthcare costs. Obviously, these asset limits put people who have saved to be able to provide for their families, in the unenviable position of either being denied MassHealth eligibility or having to spend all of their hard-earned assets on healthcare costs, leaving nothing for their families or selected charities.
By utilizing strategies such as irrevocable trusts, gifting, converting countable assets into exempt assets, legal spend downs, and purchasing annuities and long-term care insurance, we can help arrange your assets to protect them from long-term care costs and qualify you for MassHealth assistance without losing your life’s savings.
Contact us today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation to discuss how we can help you maximize your legal strategies to protect your assets. We can also help you through the burdensome and often confusing application process for MassHealth benefits.