Dear Mr. Premack: I looked through your column archives and did not find an article that addressed my question. Can a nursing resident who receives Medicaid gift or transfer her home to one of her children (61 years old and receives SSDI) without impacting either of their benefit situations? Thank you. — BLW
SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance, which is a benefit for disabled adults who qualify under the federal rules. Medicaid is a different program, which in this context is providing nursing home care to an impoverished senior citizen.
Ordinarily a Medicaid beneficiary would be disqualified from receiving continued aid if she transferred title to the home to anyone (including one of the children). The beneficiary is allowed to continue owning the house so that she will have a place to go if her health improves. If she decided not to keep the house for that purpose, then transferring it to anyone else creates a penalty period during which she cannot receive Medicaid benefits.
There are, however, a few explicit exceptions to that rule. One of them is this: if the house is transferred to a child (of any age) determined to be disabled under the Social Security rules, there is no penalty. In this case, your mother could transfer the house to her disabled daughter and still retain her Medicaid benefits. And since SSDI does not use its beneficiary’s resources as a measure of whether or not benefits will continue, becoming owner of the home will not negatively impact her disabled daughter.
Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a Five Star Wealth Manager (Texas Monthly Magazine 2009-2013) practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.
Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, March 19, 2010