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Friday, April 10, 2020

Spousal Refusal in Medicaid Planning

Do you need Medicaid and can’t wait for a 5-year lookback to qualify?

Then, consider Spousal Refusal, which with the Reverse Rule of Halves, represent 2 options to avoid the 5-year lookback requirements.

Spousal Refusal means that assets are transferred from the Medicaid applicant to such applicant’s spouse (the community spouse or the spouse not receiving Medicaid). Luckily, these transfers of assets to a spouse are exempt from the five-year look back period and thus, don’t trigger a penalty period.

Under Medicaid law, the community spouse can sign a Spousal Refusal which states that the community spouse refuses to make their income and resources available to the Medicaid applicant. This can be done especially when the community spouse may have assets over Medicaid’s allowable recourse limit or in excess of the income allowance.

In New York, Social Services Law §366(3)(a) provides that if the community spouse refuses or fails to provide the applicant with the necessary care and assistance, the medical assistance furnished to the applicant creates an implied contract with the community spouse. The cost of the medical assistance then may be recovered from the community spouse. However, this takes a lawsuit, which is often settled for far less than what was transferred, if the lawsuit is pursued in the first instance. Also, if repayment is pursued, the repayment rate is only based on the Medicaid reimbursement rate, which is significantly less than the private pay rate so there is very little to lose for a spouse to claim Spousal Refusal when they cannot plan in advance of the 5-year lookback.

Regardless, those needing Medicaid often have unique circumstances and everyone should get tailored legal advice on any strategy they seek to pursue before effectuating such strategy.

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