Several years ago, after I had concluded an elder law presentation, an attorney in attendance approached me and recounted a conversation he had with the Director of Social Services for the nursing home where his mother was admitted (he was also a member of the Board of Directors for said nursing home). The Director explained to him that because his mother (a widow) had $500,000 in non IRA/retirement savings, she needed to pay the nursing home privately ("spend down") until she had no more than $14,000 in savings. He was further advised that only then would his mother be eligible for Medicaid. The attorney also told me that his mother had already expended $150,000 of the $500,000 on her care at the nursing home.
Applying for Medicaid nursing home or home care is an extremely complex process - one with potential complications not often evident at first glance. The rules and regulations relevant to Medicaid eligibility also change frequently and vary by state. Securing the services of a seasoned elder law attorney is imperative to ensure the most favorable outcome.