Medicaid Eligibility For Seniors

By Elder Law attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in west suburban Chicagoland, IL.

Let’s get a little more in-depth on the issue of Medicaid eligibility.  What assets “count” for Medicaid, and which are exempt or non-countable?

For single individuals in Illinois, Medicaid considers that all assets that are classified as “countable” are to be spent on skilled nursing home care before eligibility is granted. The individual would be allowed to keep only assets that are considered as non-countable.  This can include a prepaid funeral, a small cash allowance, etc.

For married couples, all countable assets in a marriage are considered as being jointly held and available to be spent on the institutionalized spouse, subject to certain spousal allowance limits.

A provision referred to as the spousal impoverishment rule allows the “community spouse” (or, the healthy spouse) to retain a certain amount of assets and income.

Beyond this allowance, all of the couple’s assets earned by either partner and owned by either partner or jointly, are generally considered countable and available to fund the institutionalized spouse’s care.  The community, or healthy, spouse’s assets are still counted as part of the couple’s assets even if:

  • There is a premarital agreement that the assets belong to the community spouse and shall not be claimed by the other.
  • They were never contributed to by the institutionalized spouse.
  • The couple lives in a community property state (i.e., where assets that are brought into the marriage are not subject to division in a divorce).

There is, however, an exception to this rule in some states. If the community spouse has a tax-qualified investment plan that currently prohibits access to its assets, it may not be considered as part of the institutionalized spouse’s assets.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.

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