Special Asset Rules


At Douglas H. McPhail, PLC, we want you to understand the rules before applying for Medicaid.

We recommend scheduling an appointment with our team to avoid making expensive mistakes that affect your ability to pay nursing home costs.

Below you’ll find a list of rules that pertain to transferring assets before applying for Medicaid.

Special Asset Rules for Married Persons

Spousal Impoverishment Rules

Special asset rules for married persons were put in place to protect the community spouse from a Medicaid spend down. Before the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act (MCCA), each spouse was seen as a separate economic unit. This meant that the assets and income of the patient spouse were not considered to be available to the community spouse.

If only one spouse needed long-term care, the couple’s assets would have been spent down to pay for nursing home expenses and to make the patient spouse eligible for Medicaid. Once the couple’s life savings were gone, there would have been no money left for the community spouse.

The spousal impoverishment rules protect married couples by acknowledging that their assets and incomes are shared. Today, the community spouse is guaranteed a share of the assets and income.

Asset Snapshot Date

Before you or your spouse starts long-term care, the government will need to take a “snapshot” of your assets. Depending on your family’s circumstances, the asset snapshot date could be the day the patient spouse is admitted to a nursing home or hospital (if transferred to a nursing home immediately after). The asset snapshot day marks the beginning of continuous long-term care. In the Medicaid application process, the snapshot date is also referred to as the Initial Asset Assessment date.

Asset Declaration

We can help you determine how much of the assets will be allowed for the community spouse. This allowance is called the community spouse resource allowance. First, we will help you complete a declaration of all assets you and your spouse own using the highest balance or value on the date nearest the asset snapshot date.

This step determines the value of the community spouse resource allowance. Our goal is to help you obtain the maximum allowance possible for your spouse.

Spousal Asset Allowance

For 2024, the community spouse is entitled to half the countable assets (not more than $154,140, but with a guaranteed minimum of $30,828). Assets exceeding the allowance will be considered available for the patient spouse. As a result, these excess assets will need to be protected or spent down before the patient spouse can become eligible for Medicaid benefits.

We will be able to help you understand the most recent changes to Medicaid law and how they affect your application and estate. 

About Our Firm

We provide estate planning counsel to our clients protecting their assets and preparing their family's estate planning needs. Learn more about our firm.

Contact Us

Douglas H. McPhail, PLC
800 E. Ellis Road
Norton Shores, MI 49441
(231) 799-4994