Medicaid can be very helpful, if not necessary, to help keep an elderly or disabled person in a nursing home or in assisted living, but accessing Medicaid benefits for both are very difficult. There is a long list of income and asset requirements, the application process and many other confusing and difficult parts.

Nursing home Medicaid, at this time, is an entitlement. If you are in the nursing home, have your income and assets below the required levels, apply, and the nursing home has a Medicaid bed available, then the applicant will get onto Medicaid. If you have assets, an elder law attorney can legally protect assets from the nursing home. This is part of our social safety net.

Assisted living Medicaid benefits (generally described as Home and Community Based Medicaid, or HCBS) are much more difficult to come by. Medicaid's assistance to help pay for your assisted living is not guaranteed, even if you are in the assisted living facility and run out of money.  There is a waitlist to be accepted on benefits and the waitlist is long.  An example of nursing home Medicaid and assisted living Medicaid is as follows:

  • Dad is very sick and needs nursing home care in Florida. Dad's assets are below the asset cap and income below the income cap. He has not given away assets within the 5 year look back period. When Dad (or is his family) apply for Medicaid, he will be accepted on Medicaid and it will pay for his stay in the nursing home.
  • Same facts here but Dad is in the assisted living facility and he is running out of money. Even if Dad applies for Medicaid, there is no guarantee that Medicaid will help pay for his assisted living care due to the Medicaid waitlist!

The Florida assisted living waitlist is not first come, first serve - the waitlist is a triage system based on helping the sickest and neediest first. Generally, this means helping people stay at home longer, so the state generally moves people off the waitlist if they are at home rather than being in assisted living.

Very, very importantly is is your elder is in the nursing home for 60 days and applies for Medicaid, the long wait list can be bypassed! I have written more about Medicaid and assisted living on this other portion of our website, but wanted to post the rumor of a 42,000 person waitlist as of 2019.

How can an Elder Law Attorney Help?

A good elder law attorney, like us, can help an elder and their family by:

  • Helping prioritize which public benefits programs can help
  • Help filling out the correct paperwork when getting on the HCBS - what you do not know can hurt you when
  • Helping protect money to help pay for the elder's long-term care, even in the five year look-back period
  • Looking for other government programs that may be helpful

Download our Free Book on Medicaid and More!

We offer a free, comprehensive guide to helping your loved one and protecting assets, including help for family caregivers.  Download our book, Protect Your Nest Egg from a Florida Nursing Home today!


D. Rep DeLoach III
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Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
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