What is a Medicaid divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2022 | Elder Law And Nursing Home Issues, Medicaid Planning |

As you probably know, Medicaid can help elderly New York residents pay for long-term health care needs. To qualify for Medicaid, you need to meet certain income and asset thresholds.

This means that you cannot get Medicaid if your income is too high, or you have too many assets. But what happens if you and your spouse have too much income or too many assets to qualify, but you would qualify if you were single?

Divorcing so one spouse qualifies for Medicaid

This is a difficult situation, but it is one that some elderly married couples are finding themselves in. A potential solution is getting what is known as a “Medicaid divorce.”

A Medicaid divorce is exactly what it sounds like. You and your spouse get a divorce on paper simply so one of you can qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Why couples get a Medicaid divorce

Getting a Medicaid divorce is sometimes the best choice in situations where one spouse requires ongoing, long-term treatment for a condition that is not likely to improve.

You may not want to spend all your money and assets on their treatment, depleting them to the point that you have nothing left to live on or leave to your loved ones.

How a Medicaid divorce works

The idea behind a Medicaid divorce is that the bulk of your assets are transferred into the healthy spouse’s name as part of the divorce. This leaves the spouse who needs the medical treatment in a position where they qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Medicaid divorce is not an option for couples seeking to obtain regular Medicaid benefits, since these benefits do not cover long term care.

Only appropriate in certain situations

Rather, a Medicaid divorce is designed for situations where one spouse needs nursing home Medicaid or home and community-based services Medicaid, which are intended to prevent or delay nursing home care.

Getting a Medicaid divorce is a major decision, and one that should not be made lightly. It is best to obtain professional advice before deciding if this choice is right for you.