Many Florida residents rely on Medicaid benefits to help them cover medical and long-term care expenses, especially the elderly and individuals with disabilities. A common question is whether a person can own a house and apply for Medicaid in Florida.
Can you own a residential property in Florida and qualify for Medicaid? Read on to find out.
Medicaid in Florida – The Basic Eligibility Criteria
Jointly funded by the federal and state government, Medicaid is a program focused on providing access to health care to low-income individuals and families. The program’s eligibility criteria are quite strict, and the requirements vary depending on the type of benefit.
There are three main programs provided by Medicaid in Florida. The first program is Institutional (Nursing Home) Medicaid, which is an entitlement program provided exclusively in nursing homes.
The second is the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program, which is not based on entitlement. This variant is limited to very few cases, which may result in long wait lists.
The third and most common variant is the Regular Medicaid / Medicaid for Aged and Disabled (MEDS-AD) program. Based on entitlement, it also provides long-term care services such as adult day care and personal care assistance in certain cases.
Can You Own a House and Get Medicaid in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Yes, it is possible to meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid while owning a house in Florida. If the Medicaid recipient’s primary residence is protected by Florida homestead laws, it is not considered a “countable asset” towards Medicaid asset limit requirements.
The stricter eligibility criteria apply to recipients who depend on Medicaid in nursing homes or assisted living facilities (ALF). In such cases, the beneficiary must meet one of the two criteria established by the program.
The first is the applicant’s home equity interest limit, which is $636,000 or less (as of January 2022). The term “equity” does not refer to the total value of the home, but the fair market value of the property less any debts secured by the asset.
For example, if an applicant’s house is worth $500,000 with an outstanding mortgage of $200,000, the property’s equity value is $300,000. In this case, the applicant would not surpass the home equity interest limit.
The second possibility that waives the home-equity rules is applied to cases in which:
- The Medicaid recipient’s spouse is living in the home (regardless of the value of the property)
- The Medicaid recipient’s child (aged 21 or less) is living in the home, or
- The Medicaid recipient’s child is a disabled or blind individual of any age and lives in the home
If a Medicaid applicant does not have the intent to return to his or her primary residence, the property may be considered a countable asset for eligibility purposes. This type of situation can result in complications if the applicant decides to reside in an assisted-living facility.
The best approach is to consult with an expert attorney to navigate Medicaid eligibility criteria and protect your homestead exemption in Florida.