How can I keep my inheritance and remain on Medicaid?

Q: I am a 59 year old female, legally married but my husband left me and moved from Monroeville to AZ. We had no savings and the only asset I was left was a 20 yr. old mobile home which my 20 yr. old son and I currently reside. I was a homemaker and have no skills but was able to secure a full time minimum wage fast food job with no health ins. benefits. I had no savings and I applied for Medicaid and now rely on it for health insurance. My mother recently passed away and I received an inheritance check (have not cashed) worth more than what I think Medicaid allows. I have been told that I need knee replacement surgery and I need the Medicaid to get it. I need to know what legal options I have regarding keeping Medicaid and my inheritance. Could I apply for disability, social security, some other option?

A:  You need to see a lawyer versed in Medicaid regulation and SS Disability issues.  Two separate issues and perhaps one attorney can advise on both. Without knowing more, generally, depending on the amount of your inheritance, you may be able to “spend down’ this money prior to your Medicaid application for eligibility, or, establish a special needs trust (SNT). The special needs trust requires some administrative work and my only be worth it to you if your inheritance is significant.  As to a potential disability claim, issue one will be whether or not you worked long enough to have full credits for eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Generally you’d need 5 years of earnings over the last 10 years. If you don’t have SSDI coverage, then you’d want to look at Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the resource limits will be same as Medicaid. Please see a lawyer so these issues are addressed thoroughly.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.