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Fear of losing your home to Medicaid eligibility

submitted by E. Garrett Gummer, III, Esquire – www.GummerElderLaw.com

A major concern of a person entering a nursing home is the fear of losing their home to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

It is a common misconception that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the nursing home will immediately take a Medicaid recipient’s home. Nursing home residents do not automatically have to sell their homes in order to qualify for Medicaid.

In PA, your home will not be considered a countable resource  for Medicaid eligibility purposes if  you intend to return home after your stay in the nursing home.

In most circumstances, if you gift resources within five years of applying for Medicaid, you will be subject to a look-back penalty, which will cause you to be ineligible for Medicaid for a certain period of time depending on the value of the gift transferred.

You can, however, gift your home to the following individuals and still be eligible for Medicaid:

  • Your spouse;
  • Your child who is under age 21 years of age, blind or permanently and totally disabled;
  • A sibling who has lived in your home during the year proceeding your institutionalization and who holds an equity interest in your home;
  • A “caregiver child,” who is defined as a child who has lived with you in your home for at least two years prior to your admission to a nursing facility, and who has provided care to you during that period which precluded you from having to be admitted to the nursing facility sooner.

With a little advanced planning, you can protect your home if you require admission to a nursing home. Contact your elder law attorney now if you or a love may require admission to a nursing home in the near future.