Our law practice frequently deals with applying for long-term care Medicaid for our elderly clients. Medicaid can pay for a number of things such as nursing home, assisted living and in-home care. The long-term care Medicaid program has a number of rules and regulations and the application process is seldom, if ever, easy.

An applicant is not eligible for Florida Medicaid unless he or she meets certain asset and income limitations. Here, the Medicaid applicant must be:     

  • At least 65 years of age or disabled;
  • A United States citizen or a “qualified” alien;
  • A Florida resident;
  • Gross monthly income must not exceed $2,829/month (2024); and
  • Countable assets for a single person must not exceed $2,000. Assets for the allowed for the Community Spouse (the spouse not in long-term care) to have $154,140 (2024) in countable assets. This limit only applies at the time of application.

Financial Requirements

Medicaid long-term care benefits are only available to those individuals or couples who meet a complex list of requirements. There are many rules and exceptions to the rules. Financial requirements are divided into two separate and distinct categories: income and assets. These two particular requirements rarely interact with each other.  We have a current list of Florida Medicaid and VA financial requirements on this webpage.  Importantly, you cannot have given away money/assets within 5 years of a Medicaid application.

Income and Medicaid

The applicant’s gross monthly available income must not exceed $2,829/month (2024). Gross income is not the same as taxable income—Social Security taxes, Medicare Part B premiums, and employee portion of health insurance premiums, are not deducted from gross income.

If the applicant’s income exceeds the designated limit, a Qualified Income Trust (QIT) must be created and funded to facilitate Medicaid eligibility. This is one reason why a good, current durable power of attorney is necessary as you age.

The income of the spouse staying at home (the “community spouse”) is not included in determining benefits for the applicant. He or she can have unlimited income. However, if the community spouse’s gross income is below a certain level ($2,465/m until 06/24), the community spouse will be allowed to divert some of the applicant’s income for his or her own financial needs. This is known as the spousal diversion. You can learn more about spousal diversion here as the rules are very complex.

Assets and Medicaid

As Medicaid is a “needs-based” program, most individuals applying for benefits can only have $2,000 in countable assets. The community spouse is allowed to have $156,140 (2024) in countable assets at the time of application. If both spouses are institutionalized and applying for Medicaid, only $3,000 in countable assets are allowed between them.

Assets may either be countable or non-countable for Medicaid purposes. The most important asset, the homestead, is not countable unless it exceeds $713,000 (2024) in value. There are a few other non-countable assets such as:

  • Any one car of unlimited value;
  • A second car if over seven years old and not a collectible car;
  • Funeral plots;
  • Irrevocable pre-paid burial policies; and
  • Life insurance with face value less than $2,500.

Here is a link to our Medicaid planning homepage.

A jointly held bank account is a countable asset and is not divided among the owners. Regardless of whether a son or daughter was added to the account and has been funding it to pay the parent’s bills, the value of the account is all attributed to the applicant unless it can be proven otherwise.

When assets are over the legal limit, the family would consider legal spend down of assets and would likely consult an elder law attorney. There are many other rules, pages worth, and an amazing number of places where it is possible, or even likely, to make a disqualifying mistake. Legal advice is highly recommended if your assets exceed the bare minimum and you intend to apply for Medicaid.

How to Apply for Long-Term Care Medicaid

For those applicants who are already at or below the income and asset levels, it is very typical that the nursing home does the application for you/the resident.  Typically, the business office and/or social worker can do this when the resident's income and assets are already below the applicable limit. If you/the elder is at home and looking to apply for Medicaid, then you would call your local Aging Resource Center to get placed on the long-term care wait list.  There is no waitlist for nursing home Medicaid but there is a very long waitlist for assisted living and in-home Medicaid assistance.

If the elder's assets are above the minimum level, then it is highly likely that the family will want to consult a good elder law attorney to learn legal ways to protect assets. Here, the elder law attorney would do the application for the elder after assets are legally protected, when appropriate.

What about Assisted Living Medicaid or In-Home Care?

Assisted living or in-home Medicaid in Florida (known as Home and Community Based Services, or HCBS) is very difficult to access. If the applicant's assets are less than the income and asset limit, this does not mean the applicant will get Medicaid to help pay for assisted living. There is a long waitlist to get Medicaid for assisted living care and we have no way of telling when or if the elder will come off the wait list. We have more on assisted living Medicaid and bypassing the assisted living waitlist here.

Moving Your Loved One to Florida?

If you are looking to move your loved one to Florida and are thinking about long-term Medicaid, we have some special considerations for you to consider on this webpage.

Can our Law Firm Help?

Regardless of where you are in the state of Florida, our law firm may be able to help protect assets and apply for Medicaid. We have been protecting assets to benefit the elder and their family for over 20 years and we have successfully completed thousands of Medicaid applications. We charge $400 for a consultation with an elder law attorney who is glad to review your family's situation to see if we can help.

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We have a brand new book, Your Guide to Florida Long-Term Care Medicaid to help you make good decisions for yourself or your loved one!

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Robin 05/27/2020 09:57 PM
My mom is in an Assisted Living Facility/Memory unit because of her Dementia. She has no assets, and her monthly income is less than $3,000. I don't know where to go for assistance in getting the application completed and approved.
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Rep DeLoach 05/28/2020 08:54 AM
Robin, I am sorry to hear about this difficult situation. Our social safety net is least helpful for the elderly with dementia needs. The best thing you can do is call the local aging resource center in your county (link is on the link to this page) and tell them the facts that your mother is out of money. If they think the assisted living facility is going to evict your mother, then they may move her up the wait list. If her income exceeds $2,349/m you would need an attorney as part of the Medicaid application, which we could help you with. Please take care.
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Mary 11/13/2020 07:55 PM
I am a 58-year-old widow and I live in an ALF in Florida. I make $1963.00 per month which includes my late husbands state pension. I am also on Long Term Medicaid and I still pay $1833.00 per month to my ALF. According to my case notifications with DCF it says responsibility of payment is zero I am completely confused do I pay or does Medicaid cover long term coverage
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Rep DeLoach 11/19/2020 10:54 AM
Mary, Good question! It sounds like everything is in order with your Medicaid. When you are on Medicaid in the nursing home, all of your income needs to get paid to the nursing home as part of your patient's responsibility - you are allowed to keep $130/m for your personal needs. When you are in the assisted living facility, you must pay for your room and board while Medicaid can help pay for your Medical costs for the assisted living facility. It sounds like you are paying for your room and board for the ALF, which is correct. We are glad you have Medicaid to help you and your ALF - we are sorry the state of Florida is not very generous with allowing you to keep more of your own money.
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Charles Aissen 05/31/2021 08:26 PM
I am currently on disability and I have both Medicare and Medicaid. I want to find an assisted living facility or nursing home. I receive $1,103 a month from SSDI and I am 62. What can I do?
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Rep DeLoach 06/01/2021 12:08 PM
Charles, From the sounds of it, your income is under the asset limit. I am not sure if your assets are below the $2,000 level in order to qualify. If your assets are under $2,000 (assuming you are single), you already qualify for Medicaid from a financial perspective. From here, you could look to move into a nursing home that could accept you "Medicaid pending." The nursing home would have to accept you "Medicaid pending" and they may help you apply for Medicaid. Moving into assisted living is difficult as you would need to get onto the home and community based services (HCBS) waitlist. Our website has good help on the Florida Medicaid assisted living waitlist. We are glad to help but you may not need an attorney to get into Medicaid.
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Penny Osborne 11/01/2023 9:39 AM
Will selling or transferring a mobile home (no real property), just the home affect eligibility?
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DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. 11/03/2023 9:26 AM
Penny, interestingly, the transfer of a mobile home without land does not result in a transfer penalty under the rules. As always, please consult with an attorney before any gifts are made as there are many potential concerns with this.
Barbara Byers 11/06/2023 4:36 PM
Hello...I purchased a new condo for my mother and I to move in together in Jan. 2018. As an only child I put it in both our names in case something happened to me she would be able to cash out fast. She's now 91 and needs to be in an assisted living facility. She also makes less than the $2700 monthly. If I take her off the deed now as I want to sell the condo and move but also move her to assisted living is this going to create a problem? Will they count it as a gift to me?
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DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. 11/10/2023 9:27 AM
Barbara, Taking your mother off the deed now would create a disqualifying transfer penalty. Unfortunately, adding her to the condo in 2018 gave her a property right that cannot be undone. If you want to move, our office could help translate the issue - for instance, adding her to a new home may be just fine as she is allowed to own a homestead property.
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