Your Guide to Medicaid Countable Assets

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Medicaid countable assets are the assets included when you apply to see if you are eligible for Medicaid. The guidelines can be confusing, but we’re here to help.

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: July 27, 2020.

Understanding Medicaid Countable Assets

Understanding Medicaid Countable Assets

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Qualifying for Medicaid is based on need. This means that you can only have a particular amount of assets in order to be approved for the Medicaid nursing home benefit. To understand how these requirements for Medicaid work, you should first understand the guidelines for Medicaid countable assets and non-countable assets, also known as “exempt” and “non-exempt” assets. 
At the Law Office of Paul Black, we have extensive experience guiding Medicaid applicants through the process and advising them on their options. Contact an elder law and estate planning attorney at our firm today or read on for more information.

Medicaid Asset Limits

In Georgia, individuals are permitted to keep $2,000 when they apply for Medicaid for long-term care. However, the asset limit for Medicaid only applies to countable assets, and the amount can change depending on certain circumstances, such as the applicant’s spouse’s Medicaid need.


Asset Limit for Medicaid

If both people in a couple need Medicaid for long-term care in the state of Georgia, they may keep $3,000 in assets. If there is one partner who needs care, and one who does not, the partner who does not require nursing home care is described as the community spouse. The community spouse may keep up to $128,640 in countable assets. This is known as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. If an applicant’s assets exceed these amounts, it’s advised that they learn more about Medicaid Preparation techniques with an experienced Georgia estate planning and elder law attorney.

The maximum home equity amount permitted when applying to Medicaid is $595,000 for 2020. If within equity limits, the applicant is required to prove intent to return home in order to ensure that the home is exempt. While the home itself is not a countable asset, Medicaid can seek repayment in probate court from the earnings of a sale following the termination of care. It is important to understand if your home may be subject to the Medicaid repayment process by working with our law firm.

Medicaid Asset Limits

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Medicaid Assets Allowed

Medicaid Assets Allowed

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Countable assets are those that Medicaid will include in the total asset amount to identify eligibility. As mentioned above, the total amount of all countable assets cannot surpass $2,000 for an individual in the state of Georgia. 

Generally, all money or property and any item that can be valued and turned into cash is a countable asset unless it is considered exempt, which our experts will discuss further below. Medicaid countable assets include the following:

  • Life insurance policies — the cash value of a life insurance policy is counted as an asset if other assets have already reached the burial exclusion max.
  • Bank and investment accounts, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, inspecting accounts, cost savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, and brokerage accounts.
  • Other properties, including non-home property, any vehicles in excess of one exempt vehicle, recreational vehicles, timeshares, and investment properties.

What Assets Are Exempt from Medicaid?

When applying for Medicaid, some assets are considered exempt. Exempt assets are those that Medicaid will not include in the total asset amount to identify eligibility.

In the state of Georgia, the following assets are non-countable, or exempt, from Medicaid:

  • Home: The applicant’s home, as well as all adjoining land and all structures on the property, are excluded if the equity worth of the house is $595,000 or less.
  • Household items: Household goods such as furnishings, decor, and appliances, as well as personal items such as clothing and jewelry, are excluded.
  • Assets set aside for burial: Up to $10,000 can be designated for burial costs. This can include a prepaid funeral agreement with a funeral home or expenses designated for burial in a bank account. However, the face value of life insurance coverage is first applied to the burial exclusion amount.
  • Burial space items: Burial plots for the candidate and his or her immediate family are exempt in addition to certain other items at the burial site. There is no dollar limit on these expenses.
  • Life estate interests: The candidate’s life estate interests are exempt from Medicaid.
  • Vehicles: One vehicle is excluded no matter its value and whether it remains in use.
  • Retirement funds: Retirement funds, including IRAs, 401(k)s, and pensions are exempt if they are being dispersed in regular payments that consist of a portion of principal since these payments are counted as monthly income.
  • Non‐marketable assets: Assets are exempt while the applicant is making a genuine effort to sell the property. A genuine effort might be evidenced by a newspaper ad or a listing with a real estate agency. It must be listed for no greater than its current value, and the applicant is required to accept an offer if it is at least 2/3 of this value.

It’s important to note that this list is not all-inclusive. If you have assets that do not fall into one of the categories outlined here, a skilled elder law Georgia attorney can help you determine whether your assets are exempt from Medicaid and guide you through your next steps moving forward.

What Assets Are Exempt from Medicaid

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What Assets Are Excluded from Medicaid Spend-Down?

What Assets Are Excluded from Medicaid Spend Down

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If an applicant is over the asset limit for Medicaid eligibility, they may need to spend-down any excess countable assets in order to qualify. However, it’s important to be cautious in order to prevent breaching Medicaid’s look-back duration, which is 60 months in the state of Georgia.


What Assets Are Exempt from Medicaid With Spend Down?

There are many ways for one to spend down Medicaid assets without breaching the look-back guideline and prevent being penalized with a duration of Medicaid ineligibility. These include:

  • Paying off debt, such as loans and credit card balances
  • Purchasing medical devices that are not covered by insurance
  • Making home repairs and adjustments to enhance accessibility and security
  • Making vehicle repairs or selling an existing vehicle at market value and purchasing a new one
  • Establishing a formal life care agreement, also known as a personal care agreement 
  • Purchasing an annuity
  • Purchasing an irrevocable funeral trust, which can only be utilized for the cost of a funeral service and burial
  • Canceling life insurance coverage policies that have a cash value of over $1,500 


Contact an Attorney About Medicaid Assets

Asset spend-downs can be complicated, and if not done carefully, can lead to Medicaid ineligibility. Consulting an expert in Medicaid eligibility is an important part of the Medicaid application process, especially if one is over the asset limits. At The Law Office of Paul Black, we are experts at reallocating earnings and/or assets, maintaining the maximum assets for healthy spouses, and spending down for Medicaid assets without breaching the look-back duration, and we’re here to assist you with all of your Medicaid eligibility needs. Contact our Atlanta law firm today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!

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