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Medicaid: How To Apply For

How To Prepare Before Applying For Medicaid

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Whether you need Medicaid for general medical care or for "custodial care" in a nursing home, every state has income and asset requirements. If either your income or assets exceed those requirements, you will be denied Medicaid.

To prepare for applying for Medicaid, take the following steps:

Step 1. Check the rules in your state for eligiblity for Medicaid.

  • What is the maximum amount of income the rules allow?
  • What is the maximum amount of countable assets you can have and still qualify for Medicaid? (Assets such as your house generally don't count).

Step 2. Check your income and assets against the rules.

  • When thinking about your income, include Social Security and other disability benefits you may be entitled to receive.
  • Note that even if you have more income than allowed, you may still become eligible for Medicaid if you incur enough medical expenses each month to bring your income below the maximum allowed in your state (this is known as "Spending down" or "Medically Needy"). Be aware that you will be expected to spend down your income each month before Medicaid takes over coverage.
  • Assets and income can be transferred to someone else in order to become eligible financially for Medicaid. There are different transfer rules depending on whether or not the care you need is "custodial care" such as in a nursing home.  (In most states you can transfer income and/or assets and qualify immediately for Medicaid for non-custodial care. There is a 5 year look back period for custodial care). 

Step 3. Pull out copies of old medical bills for at least the last three months. Medicaid may reimburse you for these bills. Generally, you have to attach the bills to your application. If you don't follow the rules about submitting old medical bills, they will not be paid for.

  • Be sure to take copies of old bills with you when you apply for Medicaid. 
  • Take older bills as well if they are available. Let the representative tell you whether the state pays for them or not. 

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