New Jersey MedicaidNew Jersey Medicaid

Medicaid services provide a number of valuable resources for senior citizens in each of the 50 states and NJ is certainly no exception. Along with increased age come increased medical expenses, and a senior’s income typically doesn’t increase along with it. Medicaid will provide help with doctor visits, vision screenings, emergency care, lab tests, x-rays, and prescriptions as well as dental health, preventative care, and mental health appointments.

Equally importantly, Medicaid helps pay for long-term care: nursing homes, assisted living, and home care that will allow a senior patient to maintain their quality of life even when they’re no longer able to care for themselves. Determining eligibility, however, can be a headache for anyone. Here are some answers to FAQ about New Jersey Medicaid.

What is the asset limit I can keep and be eligible for Medicaid?

Your asset limit for Medicaid eligibility will depend on the amount of your income and the number of people in your home. The asset limit for a single individual is $2,000, and for a couple it’s $3,000. These figures are for NJ; be sure to check with your state’s eligibility guidelines.

What are assets that count (or don’t count) for Medicaid eligibility?

Any money that you have in bank accounts, including your savings account, counts toward your total assets. Trust funds and retirement accounts are also assets. So are stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposit – that is, any obvious financial assets. This also includes some vehicles and property.

Here’s the good news: your house and the property you currently live on don’t count as an asset, so you won’t have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid. The vehicle that you use for transportation to work or to your medical appointments doesn’t count, either. You can also have money set aside for your burial that doesn’t count toward your assets by Medicaid’s standards. Other assets can be removed from consideration on a case-by-case basis, so it’s worth determining whether or not you are eligible.

Can I transfer assets to my adult children to help with eligibility?

Unfortunately, large transfers of money or other assets to your children or other beneficiaries can also disqualify you from Medicaid for a period of time. A significant transfer is defined as the amount of money it would take to keep you in a nursing home for a month. For every month’s worth that you give away, you are ineligible for Medicaid for a month. Transferring your home or your vehicle to your children usually counts as a transfer of assets up to the value of the item in question.

Can any purchase be made to bring me under the limit?

There are several purchases that can be made to “spend down” assets in order to meet Medicaid eligibility requirements. The first, and most obvious, use of assets is to pay down existing debts on non-countable assets. If you still owe money on your home or on your car, you can use your existing assets to pay these amounts down. You can also use your assets to make improvements to your existing assets: making repairs to your home, upgrading to a new car, or purchasing new appliances for your kitchen. Medical expenses are always considered acceptable purchases, as are many other personal purchases. The spend down process is the key to achieving Medicaid-sponsored long-term care and it is therefore advisable to learn as much as possible about the process or to reach out to a Medicaid planning expert to ensure that this is done right.

What’s the income limit? What is considered income?

In New Jersey, the income limit is $2199 for an individual. Any income above this limit can be transferred into a Miller fund, which can help with eligibility. The excess funds in the Miller fund can be used for specific expenses, such as monthly allowance for the nursing home resident and community spouse, medical expenses not covered by Medicaid, and some other expenses.

Income considered for Medicaid purposes includes: social security income, pensions, workers comp, gross wages, or disability compensation, and any other income that comes in on a monthly basis.

Conclusion: Planning is Key

You don’t want to enter your retirement years, suddenly discover that you need Medicaid services, and realize that you are ineligible as a result of too-high income or assets that have gone over the limit. Instead, plan ahead to ensure that when you need Medicaid it will be available to you.

For a guide to understanding Medicaid terms and expressions, please check out our blog.

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.

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