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Frequently Asked Questions About New York Medicaid


Medicaid is the federal program responsible for helping New York seniors be able to afford long-term nursing home care. It is important to understand that it does not come without a cost. The entire process can be overwhelming and confusing to the average person, especially someone who has a fair number of assets.  An experienced attorney can help to clarify matters.

Why do I need Medicaid? I have Medicare. Medicare is a federal insurance program which serves disabled people of any age and others over the age of 65.  In contrast, Medicaid is a state-based program primarily serving people with low income and few assets. Medicare commonly helps elderly people with their medical bills and other needs, and it is perhaps understandable to think that it would assist with long-term care. However, that is not the case.

Is Medicaid available to everyone? No – Medicaid is a needs-based program and has strict eligibility requirements.  So, if someone has too high an income or too many assets in their name, they will be denied care under the plan. Each state’s requirements differ, and in New York in 2024, a single person will not qualify for Medicaid if they have more than $1,732 per month in income and $30,182 in assets, in addition to a certain amount of equity in one’s residence. The limits are slightly higher if both spouses in a marriage are applying, but significantly below what most people try to save for retirement.

Am I out of luck if I have too many assets or too high an income? No – if you are disabled or over the age of 65, you may be able to “spend down” your assets to a point where you will qualify for Medicaid benefits. However, “spending down” does not simply mean giving away assets haphazardly. Medicaid has what is known as a “lookback” period, during which a person cannot have given away assets outside permissible channels (for example, putting them in a trust). Otherwise, a penalty will be incurred.

What if only one person – me or my spouse – needs Medicaid benefits? There are ways in which a spouse who does not need Medicaid can keep some assets while ensuring that their spouse still receives the care they need. This practice is known as spousal refusal, and it can happen if the spouse who does not require Medicaid-financed care states in writing that they refuse to contribute to the costs of their spouse’s care. This will not work for everyone, but for some it may be a valid option.

Contact A New York Medicaid Planning Attorney

If you or a loved one may need Medicaid to cover long-term care, it is always a good idea to start planning for it as soon as possible. The Westchester County estate planning attorneys at Meyer & Spencer, PC are ready and willing to try and assist you. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. (914) 741-2288 or (845) 628-0009.



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