Medical Assistance & Real Property

/ July 31, 2011

When I ask a probate client if the decedent (or decedent’s predeceased spouse, if any) received medical assistance, I often receive a confused look.  I make this inquiry because if the decedent (or decedent’s predeceased spouse) received medical assistance there may be a medical assistance lien filed against real property owned by the decedent.  Before the real property can be transferred, the lien must be addressed.

People are often very confused about what government benefit I am referring to.  I am referring to Medicaid.  Is that the same as Medicare?  No.

Medicare is based primarily on work history.  Whereas, Medicaid is a means-tested government benefit provided based on strict income and available resource limits.

Medicare provides basic health care benefits to almost everyone over age 65 and to some disabled persons under 65, based on work history.  Medicare does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.

Medicaid is a federal and state funded (and state-administered) program providing medical services to aged, blind and disabled individuals with limited financial resources.  Medicaid eligibility is tied to SSI eligibility in most states; therefore, if a person qualifies for one, they are automatically eligible for the other.  To be eligible for Medicaid, a person must be:  (1) age 65 or older, blind or disabled; (2) a U.S. citizen (with limited exceptions); and (3) not a resident of a public institution.  Additionally, to qualify, a person is subject to a resource limit of $2,000 for an unmarried person or $3,000 for a married couple (regardless of whether one or both are applicants).

Photo:  Wonderlane

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