Medicaid Eligibility in Florida
- Medical Need
- Age, Disabled or Blind
- Financial Need
First Requirement – Medical Need
Second Requirement – Aged, Disabled or Blind
Third Requirement – Financial Need
The amount of assets allowed for eligibility is quite different depending on whether we are talking about an applicant who is married or one who is single. A Florida married couple in 2019 may keep up to a total $128,420 in countable assets. ($126,420 for the community spouse added to $2,000 in assets allowed for the applicant spouse.) Single persons can only have $2,000 in countable assets. (The $2,000 limit increases to $5,000 if the income of the applicant is under $891 per month.) It is important to update these eligibility requirements on an annual basis as they change every year.
In Florida, the 2019 income limit is set at a maximum of $2,313 per month. This cap amount is based on the applicant’s gross income, not his or her net income. This means that deductions such as the Medicare premium and any withholding tax must be added back to determine the applicant’s gross income. In Florida, an applicant who is over the cap, even by a dollar, is not eligible for benefits, but we can fix this problem by using an income trust.
When I explain to clients that the income cap and its negative effect on Medicaid eligibility are easily resolved by the implementation of an income trust they shake their head. Why they ask, does Florida have one law that disqualifies you for Medicaid benefits based on income, only to be gotten around, and basically nullified, by using an income trust? The essence of an income trust is to think of it as an EXCESS income trust. The excess income that the applicant has above the $2,313 limit merely has to be deposited into the trust’s bank account each month. The amount deposited is magically subtracted from the income of the applicant, reducing the income below the cap. See the income trust diagram for a visual of how this works as well as read the income trust chapter in our Medicaid Handbook for a complete discussion on income trusts.
The most common cause for denial of Medicaid benefits is a transfer or gift of assets. Generally, transfers of assets prior to application for Medicaid benefits is a bad thing that will result in disqualification. Medicaid will look back five years from the date of application to see if ANY assets were given away. There is generally no safe amount of gift or any excluded person or entity although there are some exceptions. If a disqualifying gift has been made though, it can be “undone” by giving the gift back. One thing that needs to be clear: If you have not planned five years in advance you can still fix this problem. The five-year issue is a common misconception. You will have to disclose a gift but you can fix the problem and still become eligible for Medicaid benefits.