Q. My husband is fading fast. He has trouble doing basic things like using the bathroom, taking showers, eating and even moving around the house despite his walker. We have little money but do own our simple home. I understand perhaps Medicaid would pay for a nursing home. How does this work? Will I lose my home to them?

A. Medicaid will pay for long-term care when certain medical and financial criteria are satisfied. Long-term care includes care in a nursing home, assisted living facility or at home. In all living arrangements, your husband must meet “nursing home level of care” as defined by the Medicaid regulations. Need for at least moderate care in at least four activities of daily living such as mobility, meal preparation or eating, bathing, toileting, personal hygiene, dressing or medication assistance. The Department of Health and Welfare will determine if your husband meets level of care.

Before the department will determine level of care, it must first be established that your husband meets the financial criteria. The monthly income received in his name must be below the income limit, which is currently $2,382. Even if his income exceeds the limit, there are ways to meet the requirement, such as a Miller Trust. Depending on the long-term care living arrangement, you may keep all or part of your husband’s income for your use.

In order to receive Medicaid, resources must be below $2,000. However, some resources are excluded in determining eligibility, such as the home, two cars, burial plots, irrevocable burial plans and retirement plans. In addition, as the spouse who is not in need of long-term care, you may keep a minimum of $26,076, and often more depending on your situation. You may have to reduce the countable resources for your husband to qualify for Medicaid, but often you can reposition those excess resources into excluded resources for your benefit.

The department does not immediately place a lien on the home or other property when Medicaid benefits are obtained. You may keep and use the resources that you are allowed to keep. However, the state will have a claim against the estate after both you and your husband pass away.

Boyd Peterson is an attorney practicing in Idaho Falls. This column is provided by the 7th District Bar Association as a public service. Submit questions to “It’s the Law,” P.O. Box 50130, Idaho Falls, ID 83405, or by email to rfarnam@holdenlegal.com. This column is for general information. Readers with specific legal questions should consult an attorney. A lawyer referral service is provided by calling the Idaho State Bar Association in Boise at (208) 334-4500.

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