By Monica P. Ruela, Associate
Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld LLP
It is that time of year again when the Governor’s annual budget is signed and released. This year’s budget expands Medicaid benefits for people 65 and older and for those who are disabled. The expansion to the Medicaid program, which is discussed below, is set to be effective January 1, 2023.
What are the new Medicaid Income Limits?
The first change is to the income limits. Currently, a single person applying for Community (home-based) Medicaid is permitted to earn $934, and a couple is permitted to earn $1,367of monthly income without it adversely affecting Medicaid benefits. Effective January 1, 2023, these limits will be increased to $1,563 for an individual and $2,106 for a couple. As in the past, for community Medicaid recipients whose income is higher than the new limits, the pooled income trust remains a viable option to protect the excess income.
The new budget also increases the permitted resource limit for Medicaid applicants. Currently, to be eligible for Medicaid, a single individual’s non-exempt resources may not exceed $16,800. A couple’s income may not exceed $24,600. Under the new law, a single person will be permitted to keep $28,134 and a couple $37,908. Note that this resource limit is exclusive of exempt resources such as a primary residence and retirement assets.
Has the Medicaid look-back period changed?
Perhaps the most important change was the imposition of the 30-month lookback imposed on applicants for community-based Medicaid. This change, originally signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2020, penalizes applicants for asset transfers made within 30 months of the application submission. Although this new law is alive and well, due to the ongoing COVID public health emergency, the implementation of this look-back period was postponed. While the law is set to become effective on July 1, 2022, there are indications that it may be postponed again. This means that an applicant for community-based Medicaid can transfer assets out of their name. As long as the application is filed with the appropriate Medicaid office before July 1, 2022, the applicant will not be penalized for the transfers.
Although the new budget increases the income and resource limits for potential Medicaid applicants, most New Yorkers do have income and resources that fall above those limits. The time to plan is now! We urge everyone to be proactive about their own planning. If you have questions about Medicaid planning and the application process, let’s talk.