Medicaid Mythbusters Part 2

By Richard Shea

December 14, 2010

Eligibility, joint accounts, resources

This is another installment in my mythbusters series to help get some accurate information out there concerning some popular myths that surround eligibility for Texas nursing home medicaid benefits.

You can make gifts within five years of applying for benefits and just not tell anyone; or the State of Texas will not find out.

A Medicaid application averages about 45-90 days before the HHSC makes a decision. What do you think they are doing during that time? They are investigating and looking for clues to any assets that may not have been identified on the application. And even if you slip by on the initial application, if the asset is discovered later on you will lose your benefits then and incur liability for the benefits the state already paid. Hoping that you do not get caught is not a strategy.

You can make gifts of real estate, or cash, or stock, without creating a penalty as long as they are “small”.

Gifts or any transfer where the Medicaid applicant or their spouse receives less in value than they transferred to another person are a minefield for the inexperienced. There is no blanket exemption that a person can gift without penalty like there is for federal gift tax purposes. Any gift or questionable transfer can be the basis of a penalty that disqualifies your loved one from Medicaid. Unfortunately too many people without proper advice end up spending several thousands of dollars on nursing home costs because they incurred a penalty over a few hundred dollars. Not a good trade in my opinion.

If you have a joint account with a family member or someone else and you simply remove your name from the account that is not a transfer resulting in a penalty.

Removing an account owner’s name from an account and cutting off their access to the funds in the account is a gift transfer which will result in a penalty and period of ineligibility. This is the same as writing a check for the full amount of the account to the other account owner.

Don’t make the mistake that ends up costing your family tens of thousands of dollars. The Texas Medicaid rules are very harsh and do not distinguish between “innocent” mistakes and intentional acts to deceive. Protect yourself and your property with an experienced Texas Medicaid Attorney today.

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