Can You Own a Car on Medicaid?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question:

"Can You Own a Car on Medicaid?"


Attorney Burton discusses the qualification rules in order to receive Medicaid assistance to pay for long term nursing home care in the state of Wisconsin through the Medicaid program. Medicaid is a need based program, and qualification depends on the amount of assets you currently own. One of the assets Medicaid will ask you about if/when you apply for Medicaid is whether you own any automobiles (cars) and if so how many? You are required to report the number of cars you own that are titled in your name on the Medicaid application on the date you submit your Medicaid application. Medicaid is a federally funded program that is administered slightly differently in each state. Attorney Burton discusses the rules for qualifying for Medicaid assistance in the state of Wisconsin and also discusses the difference between an exempt and non-exempt asset for the purpose of applying for Medicaid assistance in Wisconsin.


Want to learn more about how you can protect your home from the nursing home and other creditors? Grab a copy of Attorney Burton's Free 5-step Guide on How to Protect Your Home From the Nursing Home here.


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Hello, I'm Attorney Thomas Burton. I'm an estate planning and asset protection attorney here in Wisconsin. And today's question is the following:

“Can you own a car on Medicaid?”


This is a very good question and I see it come up frequently and the short answer is yes, you can own one automobile, regardless of value, generally and qualify for Medicaid as long as this is the automobile you use for your personal use. So this is one of the quirks in the Medicaid Program, that they will allow you to have one car and they don't really look at the value.


Now. I've had clients who have two cars that aren't worth very much and that's a problem. You're not going, let's say, you have two cars, one’s worth $3000 and one’s worth $4000. Well, the second car is going to keep you from qualifying for Medicaid. However, if you just had one car worth 10,000, more than both two cars, you would be okay for Medicaid qualification purposes. And so what I discuss with my clients at my office, it's if we prepare a Medicaid application, we want to make sure that all your assets meet the allowable levels before we submit that Medicaid application because if you submit a Medicaid application with more assets than you are allowed, they're going to automatically deny it and you just waste all that time.


And unfortunately, I see this happen to many people who try to do it without an attorney because they're either given bad information by social worker or other well-meaning person or they are given no information at all and they just fill out the application, submit it, wait weeks for a response, only to find out it's been denied.


So better to understand what you're allowed to have up front, fill out the application truthfully and correctly, but before you apply, you can move assets around to meet the allowable levels. So for example, if you have two cars, like I said, it might be better to sell one car and just keep the other or sell both and buy one better car before applying for Medicaid. Now, if you're single individual, you need someone to help you do this and that's why it's important to have a durable financial power of attorney in place, an agent, who could quickly take care of these tasks for you, while you're recovering in the nursing home. If you're married, you have a spouse who can help you but it's also important to have that financial power of attorney in place.


Now be aware that there are special rules that apply if there's a community spouse meaning a married couple with one person in the nursing home and one person living outside, but for a single person, you can have or married couple, you can have this one car. You can also generally have the home and qualify for Medicaid, but it doesn't mean that later, they won't come after the home for estate recovery purposes. So I've created other videos on how to protect the home from Medicaid and nursing home long-term care. You might want to check those out if you have a home and I also have a free guide on how to protect your home, from the nursing home, 5 Steps to take, I'll put the link to that in this video. If you're interested in that, click the link, enter your email and it will automatically send the guide to your inbox.


Now, returning to your question about the car again, you can have one car and qualify for Medicaid. You must list it on the Medicaid application and you can't have more than one car. So if you're in this situation, what I call Crisis Medicaid Planning, needing to apply for Medicaid fast at the last minute, I suggest you work with a qualified Medicaid and estate planning attorney, who has done this before and can help you fill out the application correctly to have the best chance of approval the first time. Sometimes when I sit down with the client, I see little assets that might not even be worth that much money, but if they're out of the allowable limits, it's going to cause a big problem and delay your Medicaid approval and with the average cost of care in Wisconsin, private pay being $8000 - $9000 per month, even one-month delay in your application, can cost you an additional $8,000 you're paying out of pocket. So as much as doing it yourself can seem like it might save you money, every day that passes while you're waiting for the Medicaid office to respond or get back to you, review the application, that's another day you're paying for the nursing home care.


So what you want to do is get the Medicaid application as correct as possible the first time and submit it that you meet the allowable limits because then the date they go by is the date of submission. So you don't want to have to submit twice or submit an incorrect, incomplete one. You want to get it as close to correct as possible. They'll still generally always have questions. But if you work with an attorney who's done it before, we can help you put your best foot forward, if you will, on that initial Medicaid application. Get it, submit it because every day that passes that your private paying it adds up over time and I've seen with clients, cases where we can get them qualified, but I still can't make the government move faster. So depending on their caseload, they will often take several weeks to get back to you with final approval. So again, Time is definitely money in this case, and in my opinion, it's best to work with a qualified estate planning attorney.


So great question about the car and what's allowed with Medicaid. Thank you for asking and we'll see you next time.


© 2020 Burton Law LLC. All Rights Reserved. Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired. For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact the office.

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