stethoscope with calculator and medical forms bymuratdeniz/Getty Images
MEET ASSET LIMITS: To qualify for Minnesota medical assistance long-term care benefits, you may need to spend down a portion of your assets. Consider solid investments, such as home improvements and funding funeral policies.

Minnesota’s medical assistance LTC benefits program

Farm & Family: Home, car and funeral policies are not included in calculating asset limit for the long-term care benefits program.

Over the past few months, I’ve discussed how to protect the farm from long-term care costs. Here I’ll review the income and asset qualifications for the Minnesota medical assistance long-term care benefits program.

In our previous example, Joe is in a nursing home. Joe and Nancy are now looking to see if he qualifies for medical assistance long-term care benefits. First, they need to be sure that the look-back period on any gifts they made has passed. Then, to qualify, Joe and Nancy will need to meet the asset and income limits.

For asset limits, Joe will need to have $3,000 or less in assets, and Nancy will need to have $123,600 or less in available assets.

What is excluded
When calculating the asset limit, the following items are not included in this figure: the home (as long as Nancy continues to live there), a vehicle, and designated funeral policies and funds.

Other assets that may be excluded are those used in a business that Joe or Nancy actively participate in, and income-producing assets used to provide income for Nancy if her income is lower than her monthly maintenance needs allowance (MMNA).

To meet these asset limits, Joe and Nancy may need to spend down a portion of their assets. When spending down assets, they should be sure to look at making purchases for Nancy that will improve her standard of living at home, such as improvements to the home and vehicle. They should also be sure to fund funeral policies.

Separate incomes
Regarding income, each spouse’s income is considered his or her own. Joe’s income is to be used to pay for his care at the nursing home. He is allowed to keep $99 of his income for personal expenses. The remainder of his income pays for his care. Nancy’s income is hers. She does not need to use her income to pay for Joe’s care.

If Nancy’s income is below the MMNA, Joe is able to give her a portion of his income to make up the difference. In 2018, the minimum MMNA is $2,058. If Nancy’s housing expenses exceed $617 per month, her MMNA is increased by the amount exceeding $617. For example, if Nancy has $700 in housing expenses, her MMNA is $2,141. As the housing expenses increase, the MMNA will increase — but only up to a maximum MMNA of $3,090.

If Nancy’s income is still below the MMNA, she can retain additional income-producing assets and use these to generate income to help her meet the MMNA.

Feel free to email your questions and comments to Balzarini at [email protected]. He is an attorney at law for Miller Legal Strategic Planning Centers, P.A.

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