My husband and I live on Social Security. He has no assets, I have a 401k from a previous job. Is my 401k safe if he needs a nursing home? - AgingCare.com

My husband and I live on Social Security. He has no assets, I have a 401k from a previous job. Is my 401k safe if he needs a nursing home?

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We moved in with our single daughter (owns her home) to help us all financially. My husband and I live on SS. He has early Alzheimer's and no assets, I have a 401k from an old job. Can they touch my 401k? I get mixed answers to this question. If I need a nursing home or Medicaid can they touch my 401k? Our daughter has some stock that she did not purchase, but was given to her over the years from her large employer. Can anyone touch the stock?

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Currently, the at-home spouse can protect (i.e., exempt) up to $115,920 of the total amount of assets of you and your spouse. However, in many states the 401(k) or IRA of the at-home spouse is exempt regardless of amount. So that would be the first thing to determine, i.e., what the rule is for your particular state. If you cannot find the answer online, you will need to contact an elder law attorney with expertise in this area to assist you (probably a good idea in any case).

As for your daughter's stock, under Medicaid rules a child's assets are never subject to claims by the state and never come into the picture at all when a parent's eligibility is determined.
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In the State of Florida "Qualified Plans", such as IRA's and 401k's, are considered exempt assets with respect to Medicaid Institutional Care Program qualification as long as the principal is in distribution.

By law, Required Minimum Distributions must commence by April 1st the year after the owner turns 70 1/2. This means that in all likelihood you are currently taking distributions and the 401k principal is not a countable asset. It will be required, however, that the distributions be taken monthly.

You DO NOT have to purchase a single premium immediate annuity!
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Your daughter's assets (her home and her stock) are her's assuming they are in her name and tied to her SS#. She does need to make sure IF she is the one to take dad to an ER or hospital or any other facility that she does not ever sign her name as being financially responsible for his bill. If she is DPOA or MPOA, then she signs whatever as "Jane Smith in her limited capacity as DPOA for John Jones" or she signs it as John Jones.

Your situation is different.....if your DH needs to go into a NH and you don't then you become the "community spouse" for a Medicaid application. A community spouse situation is very very different that for a widow/er who applies for Medicaid. Each state manages Medicaid under their state specific rules but under an overall federal umbrella. So realistically you need to speak to an elder law attorney who is in your state so that whatever you do, or don't do, works within your states framework. Oh and community doesn't refer to community property, rather it refers to being in the community, living in the community....

For CS it is really important to understand the difference in "income" and "assets" for Medicaid and how they dovetail when there is a CS. Also it's super important to be realistic on what you anticipate your needs and lifetime to be. Yeah, it's a hard subject but you have to do this. If you are a younger and healthy 2nd or 3rd wife, then you are likely to outlive him and you will need as much income and assets to enable you to do this. If you all are about the same age but you are healthy, it's much the same but you need to think about needing to pay for NH much sooner and how it could be done.

For CS it is really important that if $ needs to be moved or spent, that it all be done BEFORE and clear through the bank BEFORE you apply for Medicaid. CS does a "snapshot" day based on the day of application or day 1 of NH admission and all the $ is benchmarked & fixed based on that day. This is super critical.

In general, for CS the state does not expect you to impoverish yourself. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of "assets" to enable you to remain in the community. However, some assets are joint assets - your 401K would probably be considered a joint asset and would have to be spent down to whatever your state has as the maximum asset for a CS. CS have a formula - CSRA - community spouse resource allocation (or allowance) that varies by the state. Most states have the CSRA at 109K but other states have it at much, much lower. Really you need an experienced attorney because you don't want to make a costly and irreversable mistake.

There are some things that are easily done if you are over the limit. Like you are allowed 1 car. So if you or your daughter will be driving for the near future, then buy a nice dependable new car in your name. Alot of couples have 2 cars and then turn both in and get a new one & pay cash. Also buy preneed funeral and burial for both you and your DH. If either of you need dental work, do that as it is expensive and rarely paid for by Medicaid. For my mom, we spend down over 20K in dental alone.New eyeglasses and hearing aids are another good spend down. Ditto for tricked out walkers or wheelchairs as Medicaid's ones are super minimal.

It is good that you are thinking about this now and before you are in a panic mode and need NH placement for your DH. Involve you daughter in the discussion along with your DH too. Good luck and keep a sense of humor in all this if you can.
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Medicaid....thieves
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I think you need to see a good elder care lawyer to protect your assets. Unfortunately, if you go on Medicaid to pay for the nursing home you will be required to spend down the assets. While they claim the surviving spouse should not be impoverished, most are. Medicaid ..thieves not really the point. We don't want to provide paid end of life care for our citizens whether in nursing home or with home health aides. The price we pay as we cling to our unrealistic view that we are individually responsible for our own care to our grave. We can't blame Medicaid which is a medical insurance program for the very poor. Many loud mouthed congress people rail against even this program---for all of these people so against helping the frail elderly I wish that they could do a month as a primary caregiver for their loved one. They couldn't and wouldn't do it. Most of them never had to rely on social security as their sole form of income. Another program they think needs to be cut or eliminated. They are really clueless.

Good luck get the advice of the elder care lawyer but be prepared for all the restrictions once Medicaid is in the game.

Elzabeth
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I'd say Igloo covered it for you. You need to go to an lawyer for the best plan and it is money well spent. No second guessing amount of save assets, your income and assets are I believe considered as one, and they go back five years tracking where money went. The lawyer will cover your buttocks.
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hey medicaid......shove it where the 'sun don't shine'.....lol
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There are places in the world today where there is nothing like Medicaid for anyone and the average lifespan is in the 30's still.
I don't like the system, but it is better than some. I have a friend whose husband needed to be cared for in a NH and they took her retirement to pay.
Seemed unfair to me. But I guess I will have to divorce the old guy if it gets to that.
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Skinonna brings up an option. Why don't spouses just get divorced to preserve assets? Doesn't mean they love each other any less. And spouses who have been married more than 10 yrs can still collect ss benefits of the other spouse.
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Listen to Attorney Heiser he has good information. A friend of mine was told by her daughter who was an attorney and her son in law who was also an attorney, that she needed to divorce her husband so she would not be liable for his medical bills. It seems however that their advice may have been a ploy as when he died, the daughter got everything and never shared it with anyone, including her mother! Go see an attorney...
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