A sweeping change has come to New Jersey’s long term care Medicaid programs. Effective December 1, 2014, the income cap that had barred countless individuals from receiving Medicaid benefits in an assisted living facility or at home is now gone. Under New Jersey’s new program scheme, individuals with gross monthly income that exceeds $2,199 in 2015 can potentially qualify for Medicaid to cover the cost of the assisted living or home care.
Under the new New Jersey Medicaid rules that became effective December 1, 2014, individuals with monthly income over $2,199 who apply for long term Medicaid benefits to cover nursing home, assisted living, or home care are required to establish a trust, known as a Qualified Income Trust (QIT). Each month that an individual is eligible for Medicaid, a portion of his income must be deposited into this trust. The trust contains certain provisions required by the State. Income that is deposited into the trust is not counted for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
Qualified Income Trusts may be established by a Medicaid applicant, an agent under the applicant’s Power of Attorney, or the applicant’s guardian. An elder law attorney can provide the trust document, explicit instructions on how to use the trust to qualify the applicant for benefits, and the calculation to determine how much to place in the trust each month.
Individuals who have monthly incomes over $2,199 in 2015 who were receiving Medicaid benefits in a nursing home will be grandfathered and will continue to receive Medicaid provided that they remain in a nursing home. Individuals who are already living in an assisted living facility or receiving home care who were unable to qualify for Medicaid because of high income can now apply. Of course, in addition to income rules, Medicaid has complex asset requirements that must be met for eligibility.
The change in policy appears to be a positive move to assist our elderly in securing long term care when it would be otherwise unaffordable. The requirements of the new trust serve as a reminder of how critical powers of attorney and legal planning for aging has become in our country. More information on these trusts is available at http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmahs/clients/mtrusts.html and by calling BOOKBINDER LAW, LLC.