Using An Annuity For Medi-Cal Eligibility For Spouses

In previous blogs, we have discussed various techniques, within the regulations, for obtaining Medi-Cal qualification for an ill spouse, when the couple has excess assets. These techniques include “spending down,” gifting and filing a court petition to obtain an order that allows the couple to keep all of their assets. In certain circumstances, especially between spouses, an annuity can be a useful tool to consider for Medi-Cal qualification.

As discussed in previous blogs, the ill spouse (Medi-Cal applicant) and the well spouse, can keep all of their qualified funds, like IRAs and 401(k)s, in any amounts, and still qualify for Medi-Cal. Then, the ill spouse cannot have more than $2,000 in non-qualified funds, like a savings or brokerage account in his name. The well spouse can have up to $120,900 in non-qualified funds in her name. So for instance, if the couple has $300,000 in non-qualified funds, they would have $177,100 too much for the ill spouse to qualify for Medi-Cal.

To use an annuity for qualification, the ill spouse would transfer his non-qualified assets to the well spouse. There is no Medi-Cal penalty for inter-spousal transfers. Then the well spouse would purchase an annuity with that money in her name, and name someone other than her ill spouse as the pay on death beneficiary of the annuity. Distributions would be made periodically from the annuity to the well spouse in payments scheduled to be exhausted during her life expectancy, pursuant to social security life expectancy tables. The well spouse can keep all of her income from the annuity, without penalty. In addition, as of January 1, 2017, there can be no recoupment by Medi-Cal against the annuity after the ill spouse passes away, because a pay on death beneficiary has been named in the annuity. This technique is not appropriate in all situations, and may be discussed with your elder law attorney along with other options.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com, we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help the older client and their families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

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