Medicaid is a health program for individuals with low income and few resources. It pays for medical and dental coverage and can also pay for the cost of housing an individual in a residential care facility. Medicaid was created under Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965, so it is often called “Title XIX.”

Medicaid eligibility has two major components:


  1. The applicant must have less than $2,000 in countable resources. Certain assets, such as a home, one automobile, household goods and furnishings, health aids, and prepaid burial funds, are not counted. Countable resources will generally include bank accounts, retirement or investment accounts, and life insurance policies with a cash value.
  1. The applicant must have a monthly income of no more than three times the Supplemental Security (SSI) program’s maximum benefit payment. In 2015, the SSI amount is $733, so an applicant must have less than $2,199 in monthly income from all sources to qualify for Medicaid.

There is a common misconception that a couple must use up all of their available assets for care before one spouse becomes eligible for Medicaid. In fact, Medicaid has safeguards in place to ensure that the spouse of a Medicaid-eligible person can retain assets. These provisions help ensure that the community spouse is able to live out his or her life with independence and dignity.

Understanding Medicaid is challenging. There are many scenarios that lead to different results. At Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm, our attorneys can help you navigate this complicated process.