Does your marital status affect your Medicaid eligibility?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2021 | Medicaid eligibility |

Medicaid is one of the most important health care programs in the country, but there are many New York residents who are not qualified for the program. Eligibility is means tested, and many married couples earn well in excess of the minimum income for approval. This presents problems for many New Yorkers who need the coverage, including those who are not married. Not only is there an income limit, but there are also limitations on how much property an individual can own as well.

Understanding the marriage penalty

Being married can indeed affect eligibility for Medicaid. Medicaid can be an important benefit for many people, and getting married while eligible for the insurance program can result in being deemed ineligible in short order. While an individual can only have $2000 in financial assets, married couples are limited to $3000 total between the two. The marriage penalty potentially occurs again when the couple files taxes together instead of filing separately as when single. Married couples are held to an income limit of 100% of the federal poverty line, which is $1467 monthly. A remedy for this issue as opposed to a divorce could be filing for a legal separation.

Property ownership also matters

Medicaid eligibility is also restricted by real estate and personal property owned by the couple. Only one primary residence ownership is allowed for a married couple, as well as one dependable vehicle of a specific value. There are exemptions such as a Medicaid waiver when one spouse requires nursing home residency, which is more desirable than filing for a divorce in an effort to maintain and protect personal assets.

The laws governing Medicaid eligibility are assuredly complex, and becoming eligible often requires a significant shift in a married couple’s estate planning. However, eligibility is necessary for many couples who need Medicaid insurance at any point during their marriage.