By Andrea K. Kovar, Attorney, Generation Law

In a surprise move, The Illinois Department of Human Services proposed an amendment to Medical Assistance Programs rules, which would increase the cash value of exempt resources for Medicaid long-term care eligibility determinations from $2,000 to $17,500. This is not a per person limit; the limit is $17,500 in the case of a single applicant and married applicants with both spouses applying. For a married applicant with just one spouse applying, the asset limit is $17,500 for the applicant spouse and $120,780 for the non-applicant spouse. This change brings the asset limit in line with the limits used by the Department on Aging’s Community Care Program and the Department of Human Services’ Home Services Program for eligibility purposes.

What this means is that when an individual applies for Medicaid benefits for nursing home care or supportive living care, he or she can retain $17,500 of assets instead of the very limiting $2,000 under the old rules. The $2,000 rule has been in force since 1965, so this is a welcome increase.

Please keep in mind that the Department proposed these rules. They are not in force yet. We expect the these rule to become permanent with some possible modification later this year.