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In recent columns, I have been addressing how a senior must qualify before Medicaid will assist with the cost of long-term care.  One requirement is to establish financial necessity, which requires a review of the Medicaid applicant’s assets and monthly income.  Today’s column will address the income requirement to qualify for Medicaid. 

Currently, a senior applicant must have a monthly income of $2523 or less to qualify for Medicaid long term care assistance.  Typically, most of that income will be applied towards the cost of care, with Medicaid paying for the remainder of the cost. 

There are multiple ways in which an applicant’s income may be calculated.  Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, the department charged with implementing Medicaid for Idaho recipients, will apply the standard most beneficial to the applicant.

Not surprisingly, the first method is to simply look at the gross income of the individual. If it is less than the income limit, the income requirement is met.  Significantly, the income of the applicant’s spouse is not counted.

Alternatively, Medicaid will look at the combined income of a married couple and attribute half of the total income to the applicant.  Again, if the attributed amount is less than the monthly limit, the income requirement is met.

Finally, if an applicant is eligible for Medicaid assistance, there may still be circumstances in which the income of the non-applicant spouse is so low that the non-applicant spouse will be left impoverished if the applicant spouse’s income is used for that spouse’s own care.  In such cases, the non-applicant spouse will be entitled to receive some of the income of the applicant spouse. 

There may be some situations in which the income of the applicant is over the income limit.  Yet, but for this one issue, Medicaid may still be the most appropriate (or only) option to receive long term care assistance.  There is a way to qualify for Medicaid assistance, even if the applicant’s income is over the income limit.  I will address this option next column.