Relocation Issues

by Ira M. Leff, Esq.

April 19, 2010

In our increasingly-mobile world, it is not unusual for parents to relocate in their golden years to be near a care-giving child. I was recently presented with the following scenario by one such family:

Mother and Father live in Alabama. Father is in a nursing home and is receiving assistance from Alabama Medicaid. The family home has been transferred into Mother's name. Mother is in the process of selling the home and moving herself and Father to Georgia so that Son can help care for them. Mother intends to rent an apartment in Atlanta.

The questions which this case raises are: (1) What happens if the house sells before Mother and Father move to Georgia? (2) When Father moves to Georgia, will he qualify for Medicaid, or will the house proceeds make him resource-ineligible? (3) Would it be preferable to sell the house after Father has been approved for Georgia Medicaid?

Father will have to apply for Medicaid in Georgia. There is no reciprocity from state to state. Georgia will use the spousal impoverishment rules, which count all of Mother and Fathers resources, even though Father was previously approved for Medicaid in Alabama. The limit is $111,560. The house proceeds will not be exempt since they will not be reinvested in replacement property within 3 calendar months. MEDICAID MANUAL § 2318.

Alternatively, if Father were on Medicaid in Georgia before Mother sold the home in Alabama, Father's Medicaid would not be affected by the subsequent sale. Once Father is approved for benefits, Mother and Father are treated as two separate/single people. Father has a $2,000 resource limit. Mother has no limit on her resources unless she also wants Medicaid.

Therefore, it is preferable to not sell the home until Father has been approved for Medicaid in Georgia.

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