Share this article on social media!
If you are a caregiver for a senior in Florida, you will inevitably face the day when you have to begin looking at Medicaid for your loved one. The first question to consider when you start that task is the Florida Medicaid income limits 2022.
Medicaid is a federal and state health care program for low-income individuals. It covers many different groups, but this article focuses on its use for long-term care for Florida seniors over the age of 65. For them, Florida Medicaid may cover nursing homes, adult foster care, and assisted living facilities. It also helps pay for non-medical services to help seniors who need them remain in their homes.
As of January 1, 2022, an applicant for Medicaid in Florida may not have a monthly income of more than $2,523.00. The applicant may keep $130 per month for personal expenses.
Having income over that amount may not be the end of the road for your loved one’s Medicaid eligibility. Under Florida law, you can establish a qualified income-only trust to hold your senior’s excess income. This so-called Miller is irrevocable. Your senior’s surplus income is directly deposited into the trust and is held in a non-interest-bearing account. The funds can then be used to pay for the nursing home and other medical expenses of your loved one. You or someone else other than the senior can serve as the trustee. Your senior or their spouse can set up the trust or, if appropriate, the holder of the senior’s durable power of attorney. If you’re helping your senior set up a durable power of attorney, make sure to include the authority to establish a Miller trust in the powers of the attorney-in-fact. When the senior beneficiary passes away, any funds left in the
Effective January 1, 2022, the total value of the assets that can be retained by the Medicaid applicant’s healthy spouse, the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), is $137,400. This figure includes securities, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and other similar financial assets. It does not include the homestead, one vehicle, life insurance policies, or prepaid funerals up to $2,500 in value. It also excludes certain IRAs and other assets classified as unavailable. Further, Florida law allows the healthy spouse to exercise “spousal refusal,” which can help an applicant qualify even if the spouse has assets in excess of the CSRA limits.
Home Equity Issues
Most people who think about applying for Medicaid for long-term care focus on the potential for losing their home as their biggest concern. Will the healthy spouse be forced out of the marital home so that the spouse needing care can get it? If you sell the home, will the proceeds go to the nursing home? Where does the healthy spouse go if the home is sold? Fortunately, it is possible to keep the marital home if you meet certain conditions.
First, your equity in the home may not exceed $636,000 as of January 1, 2022. Equity equals fair market value minutes debt. So, if you live in a million-dollar home with a $900,000 mortgage, your equity is only $100,000. Plus, if your home is jointly owned, the applicant is only liable for their share of the equity, which may make it $50,000, depending on how your home is owned. There are, however, other conditions that you have to meet to qualify for this exemption.
- The healthy spouse must live in the home
- Any minor children of the Medicaid applicant must also live in the home.
- Any blind or disabled children of the applicant, regardless of their age, must also live in the home.
The applicant must also prove that they intend to return to the home. This does not mean that they must be likely to return, only that they intend to do so. This requirement is demonstrated by preserving the home for the possible return. In other words, renting out the home is a bad idea, aside from the excess income it will create.
Finally, Medicaid can sometimes place a lien on the home when the recipient dies in order to recover the state’s expenditures. However, the state cannot do this if the home is still a homestead when the applicant dies and the applicant leaves the house to constitutional heirs at law. These heirs are the spouse, children or grandchildren, siblings, and nieces or nephews.
Florida law says that to qualify for long-term Medicaid in the state, the applicant may not have given away assets within five years of applying for Medicaid. Giving something away means transferring its ownership without receiving any compensation for the transfer. The inheritance issue, along with the lookback, is one of the reasons that rushing to give a home away to one’s children can be a tremendous mistake in Medicaid law. Giving the home away during the five-year lookback period is deemed a gift and counts against the eligibility, aside from potential gift tax issues.
Work with a Qualified Elder Lawyer
It would be best if you did not try to handle all of these issues on your own. These issues require knowledge and experience in dealing with elder law issues. Setting up a Miller trust for your loved one is a complicated matter. If the time has come to set up this kind of trust, you should consult a qualified and experienced elder law attorney. This attorney can help with the trust, and with your durable powers of attorney (for property and health care), and all the other legal issues that may be important for your senior. Things like calculating the CSRA and exercising a spousal refusal are highly technical. You will definitely benefit from working with an elder law attorney who can prevent you and your loved one from falling into one of the many traps created by Medicaid qualification rules. Please visit our Spotlight Marketplace page for recommendations for Elder Law Attorneys in Central Florida