Q: I've heard there is a way to divide up a couple's assets so one of them can be eligible for Medicaid. If this is true, how does one go about getting this done? My wife is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and I'm afraid she'll need nursing home care soon.
If we both have to be impoverished in order to be eligible for Medicaid coverage of nursing for her, I don't know how I would survive.
A: You are right. There is a provision in the Medicaid administration that takes care of just the situation you are worrying about. It's called the Spousal Impoverishment Law. It allows the spouse remaining at home to protect a portion of income and resources.
The spouse needing care can receive Medicaid sooner and without the spouse at home being reduced to poverty.
The Spousal Impoverishment Law is administered in Kansas by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. You can contact the office nearest you to get the proper forms. You may also need the assistance of an attorney in filling out the forms.
You should contact SRS when you and your spouse meet the following conditions:
A spouse is already in a nursing home or will be in the next two to three months;
The total nonexempt assets of the marriage (that includes almost everything except the home, a car, a funeral plan and some personal assets) are near or less than $174,000; and
The at-home spouse has income less than $1,407 per month (or $2,175 if he or she will qualify for excess shelter allowance). Income and resource amounts are adjusted frequently.
To get more information about the Spousal Impoverishment Law, contact SRS; the Kansas Elder Law Hot Line (888) 353-5337; or the Kansas Department on Aging, (800) 432-3535. KDOA will provide a free booklet, updated for 2001, that will answer many of your questions.
If you have a question or comment for "Sense for Seniors," write to Betty Gibb, Kansas Senior Press Service, 11875 S. Sunset, Suite 200, Olathe 66061.