Can I get assistance for paying my Mom's utilities while she is in a nursing home?


She is in a nursing home waiting to get on Medicaid.

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For it to be feasible for the elder to continue to keep their home once they go into a NH and onto Medicaid really will depend on their family's financial situation. In most states, the elder can continue to keep & own their home as an "exempt" asset under Medicaid rules. (Now some states do not allow for this or may limit the length of time they can keep the home - so you need to find out IF your mom's state has specific rules).

But here's the rub on keeping the house, once they are on Medicaid, they are required to do a co-pay or their "SOC" (share of cost) to the NH. The SOC will be whatever is their monthly income LESS whatever your state has set as their personal needs allowance (ranges from $ 35 - 90 a mo). So say mom gets $ 800 in SS and $ 1K in retirement and is in TX (which has the allowance @ $ 60 a mo), then every month mom MUST do her SOC of $ 1,740 to the NH to be compliant for Medicaid rules. There will realistically be no - nada - zilch - zero $$ to pay for anything on mom's house anymore. If family is living at the home, they are kinda expected to pay for all as they are benefitting from the property which is owned by mom. The $ 60 is really just enough to pay for mom's hair salon and clothes.

I would suggest that you look hard at the total costs for mom's house (taxes, insurance, utilities, yard, etc) and then taking into account what mom's wishes are and the feasibility of her "right of return" to the house to determine whether keeping the house from now till her death. Since we lost that crystal ball!, this could be 6 mo or 6 years. Personally, if there is still a mortgage, then it isn't feasible.

Now if the house is empty, then you need to think about if it is possible for you or other family to dependably continue to pay for everything on the house for the rest of mom's life and keep the detailed records of all expenses so that you can do a MERP exemption for those costs (to offset the required MERP claim or lien) and then also to possibly present to probate as an expense of the estate. For most this is just not feasible and so mom's house gets sold. The $ from the sale will have to be reported to Medicaid too & spent-down, no way around this.

I don't know how this runs for other states, but for TX Medicaid if they have a home and want to sell it, you can ask for a short-term diversion of some of their SOC to pay for items needed to have the house on the market. House has to have a valid listing agreement with a Realtor (so no FSBO stuff). When the house sells then all the proceeds have to go towards mom's spend down before Medicaid will pay too. If you spend $ to do things to the house to make it more sellable, you kinda need to get a bill to mom in order to get reimbursed from the proceeds of the sale too otherwise the state seems to view that you spent the money out of your love & devotion to mom & so no reimbursement to you. Good luck.
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Probably not, but talk to her caseworker at the NH. She may know of resources. How long is she going to be in the NH? Does anyone live in the house? Why can't they pay the bills? The house may eventually be lost to Medicaid anyhow. More details might lead to more suggestions.
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