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How can this retired police officer qualify for Medicaid?

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Q. My 84-year-old father-in-law fell in his home and injured his spinal cord. He retired from the police force over 20 years ago and received a lump sum. He currently receives over $2,000 per month from his pension and Social Security. How can he spend it down to qualify for Medicaid as he’s now a paraplegic.
— Trying to help

A. Qualifying for Medicaid can be complicated.

The NJ FamilyCare Aged, Blind, Disabled (ABD) programs provide health care services in the community and in long-term care facilities, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

She said long term services and supports are available to those who are determined to be clinically and financially eligible.

An individual is clinically eligible if he or she requires assistance with three or more activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, personal hygiene and walking.

“Financial eligibility means that the Medicaid applicant has less than $2,000 in countable assets and a gross monthly income of less than $2,382 per month in 2021,” she said. “A principal place of residence and a vehicle generally are not countable assets.”

If the gross monthly income exceeds $2,382 per month, the applicant can establish and fund a Qualified Income Trust with the excess income that is over the limit, she said.

“The options for spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid will depend in large part on their current and future living needs and the amount that has to be spent down,” Whitenack said. “For this reason, the reader’s father-in-law or the reader on her father-in-law’s behalf should consult with an elder law attorney to determine the best spend down options that are available to the reader’s father-in-law.”

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This story was originally published on July 19, 2021.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.