Community Medicaid is a needs-based government assistance program that provides long-term care benefits to individuals at home. To qualify, an applicant’s resources and income limits must fall below a determinative limit that is adjusted annually. For the year 2020, that limit is $15,750 for available (non-exempt) resources and $895 of income for a single individual.
For those individuals with excess resources that would disqualify them from obtaining Community Medicaid eligibility, they would often engage in gifting, funding of trusts or even spending-down their excess assets.
In April of 2020, New York State passed a new law that instituted a thirty month look-back period for Community Medicaid applicants, effective October 1, 2020. Such look-back did not exist for Community Medicaid prior to the new law. If the Community Medicaid applicant made any transfers prior to October 1, 2020, there was no look-back period. However, the new law requires that any Medicaid application submitted after October 1, 2020 would require a thirty month look-back of all transfers made on or after October 1, 2020. If the applicant and/or the applicant’s spouse made uncompensated transfers after October 1, 2020, then a penalty period would apply. This new law led many people to furiously work on transferring assets to trusts, loved ones and others and then complete their applications for Community Medicaid prior to October 1, 2020.
We are pleased to report that New York State has informally advised members of the elder law section of the New York State Bar Association that the thirty month look-back period will be postponed until April 1, 2021. This means that if you have assets in your name and are looking to apply for Community Medicaid, you have until April 1, 2021 to make any transfers and avoid the thirty month look-back and file your Community Medicaid application. Certainly, New York Medicaid will need to issue formal guidance on this, though we anticipate same to be forthcoming.