Not necessarily. Most single people can qualify for MassHealth assistance while owning a home, and your home remains a non-countable asset as long as you intend to return to it. A home is also not countable if certain people are living there, such as a spouse, a disabled, minor or caretaker child, or a sibling with an equity interest in the property. However, a lien will be placed if no qualifying people live in the home. There are many planning options available to “save” the house if done early enough under current law.
Not with proper planning, however MassHealth regulations say that once a person declares that they no longer intend to return home, and no qualifying people live in the home, MassHealth can look to the home as a countable asset. If sold, planning opportunities exist for the proceeds. If held for the life of the owner, MassHealth may be reimbursed for services provided out of the probate estate, but often at a lesser rate than the private pay rate, which is sometimes like getting “care on sale”.
Five years is indeed the “look back”. Under Federal Regulations enacted in Massachusetts February 8, 2006, called the Deficit Reduction Act or “DRA”, rules about gifting have changed dramatically. However, with the help of a qualified elder law attorney, you may still be able to plan. Early planning is still best!
An individual can only have $2,000.00 in countable assets to be eligible for MassHealth. A married couple can keep up to a maximum of $121,000 in 2015, and still have one member qualify for MassHealth. With proper legal representation under current law it is often possible to protect MUCH MORE than $121,000 for the benefit of the spouse at home, and still have one spouse qualify for MassHealth.
BOTTOM LINE: THESE LAWS CHANGE FASTER THAN NEW ENGLAND WEATHER. ALWAYS SEEK QUALIFIED ELDER LAW REPRESENTATION.