What is the widower entitled to if the spouse goes on Medicaid (PA)?

Q: My grandfather is unresponsive in a long term rehab center. He is 65 (December Birthday), has Medicare and Bankers Life/Colonial Penn Plan N. He is about to run out of covered days. The thought was to put him on Medicaid, but we don’t know what they can take (home, savings, property, cars, etc.), what the widower is entitled to keep, and so on. We also don’t know how it will work with Social Security – will she be able to keep his monthly check? Together last year they made a total of a little less than $40,000. Everything they own, their house (no mortgage), 3 cars, and all bank accounts are in both their names. The other problem is that my grandmother doesn’t have power of attorney, and since my grandfather is unresponsive, that isn’t possible (to my knowledge). What about guardianship? (Forest Hills, PA)

A: You really need to find an elder lawyer versed in Medicaid regulations to guide you through your situation. Generally, the state takes a snap shot of the assets a married couple owns at the time of eligibility for Medicaid. It doesn’t matter if the accounts are titled jointly or in either spouse’s name. There are certain assets that will be excluded such as the primary residence, one car, certain life insurance and qualified retirement accounts of the community spouse (the spouse not in the hospital). This snapshot value is added together — the community spouse gets to keep at a certain amount of assets pursuant to Medicaid’s convoluted formula. Sometimes, you can increase the maximum amount that can be retained if. Again, you really need a thorough assessment of the situation. If grandfather is not competent to sign a Power of Attorney, you may need to have an attorney file for a guardianship over him.

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