Question: My mother is widowed and living alone. She would benefit from some assistance with her daily activities. She rents an apartment and only has a small amount of money in savings. I have heard that Community Medicaid will cover this type of care so long as the recipient is under the income and asset limit. Her monthly income is $2,000.00 and uses every penny for her monthly expenses. Does her income disqualify her for home care Medicaid benefits?
Answer: No, your mother’s high income does not automatically disqualify her from receiving Community Medicaid. With careful planning and the use of a Pooled Income Trust many elderly persons are able to age in place, get the homecare services and preserve their monthly income for payment of household expenses. In order for a person to be financially eligible for Community Medicaid s/he must not exceed certain income and resource thresholds. For 2016, a Community Medicaid applicant is permitted to keep $825.00 plus a $20.00 disregard (totaling $845.00) of his/her income. Typically, Medicaid would be entitled to any income received by an applicant in excess of this amount. In your mother’s case, her monthly income would be over the Medicaid threshold by $1,155.00 ($2,000.00 – $845.00). For many individuals like your mother who rely on her entire income to live, turning over this “excess” income would leave her impoverished. The good news is that in New York, individuals who are otherwise eligible for Medicaid have another option. New York permits an applicant to deposit his/her excess income into a trust referred to as a “pooled trust.” These pooled trusts are created by not-for-profit agencies and are a terrific way for individuals to take advantage of the numerous services available through Community Medicaid while preserving their monthly income.
The applicant’s excess income is deposited into the pooled trust on a monthly basis and the applicant submits bills (i.e. rent, electric, cable, credit card) equal to the amount of excess income sent to the trust. Each not-for-profit operates the pooled income trust differently and it is important to consult with an Elder law expert in your area to review the specifics of each pooled trust. By using the Community Medicaid program and setting up a pooled income trust, your mother will be able to continue to rely on her monthly income to pay her bills and age in place at home safely and comfortably.