Qualifying for Medi-Cal benefits can be difficult if applicants own too many assets because Medi-Cal is a needs-based program. Additionally, there is often a look back period on any asset transfers that could disqualify applicants from receiving benefits. However, there are ways to reduce assets through a qualified spend down to ensure you receive Medi-Cal benefits, typically in the form of purchases. These purchases should be made with the guidance of an experienced Encino elder law attorney to make sure they will not serve as means for disqualification.
Purchase of Pre-Paid Burial Plots
The pre-payment of burial costs is usually allowed as part of a qualified spend down. California allows Medi-Cal applicants to either designate up to $1,500 in burial costs or contribute any amount, without limit, to a pre-paid burial fund. In addition, previously purchased burial plots are excluded from Medi-Cal’s countable assets. It is best to speak with an experienced Encino elder law attorney to determine if a pre-paid burial plot or fund is a good option for your individual situation.
Purchase of Non-Countable Assets
When Medi-Cal determines eligibility on the basis of assets, there are certain assets that are considered non-countable. These include a home, one automobile, personal and household items, real property that is in use and worth up to $6,000, and certain retirement accounts and insurance policies. If you are in a situation where you are purchasing non-countable assets as a spend down strategy in order to qualify for Medi-Cal, an elder law attorney can help you determine what kinds of non-countable assets you should buy.
Purchase of Annuities
Buying annuities can be a good strategy for married couples who are spending down to qualify for Medi-Cal, so long as it’s done correctly and with the consultation of an attorney. An annuity for a spouse can be purchased for one lump sum that guarantees the spouse a fixed income for a certain amount of time. Since spousal income is not counted in regard to Medi-Cal eligibility, this is a great strategy for safely spending down assets as long as it meets the annuity requirements set by federal Medicaid law.
If you’d like more information about spending down to qualify for Medi-Cal, or if you’d like to review and assess your current situation to determine if spending down is a strategy that can help you qualify for Medi-Cal in the future, please set up an appointment at our San Fernando Valley elder law office by calling (818) 905-6088.