There is a common misconception about the way that Medicaid works, and that is that it "takes all your money." Medicaid is an assistance program that covers medical and nursing home costs for individuals who meet income and asset guidelines. When a person becomes Medicaid-eligible for payment of nursing home costs, she is required to assign any social security or pension income to Medicaid as a copay for the services she receives but is allowed to retain a monthly stipend of $40 for payment of miscellaneous uncovered services and to purchase personal items. The number is low because, in a nursing home, it is presumed that the individual has no significant living expenses that are not included in the nursing home charges. Medicaid pays the rest. Medicaid doesn't take your mother's money, she is only contributing to payment for her care.
To be eligible for Medicaid, an individual can have no more than $1,500 in assets (excluding the value of a primary residence in which the individual resides). You cannot receive Medicaid-paid services until you reach that level of assets, and you cannot give away your assets to make yourself Medicaid eligible. JFS will look back five years from the date of application for disqualifying transfers, which will result in a period of ineligibility or uncovered services. If your mother has outstanding debts, then she can pay those debts as part of her spenddown. If she has outstanding medical bills at the time she qualifies for Medicaid, she can file an Act 52 request, which will allow Medicaid to apply her copayment (social security, etc.) first to the payment of the outstanding medical bills. If the bills are not medical, then she does not have income to pay them. She is still liable for them, but may be eligible for bankruptcy. She is also likely to be judgment proof which means that even if the creditor sues her, her assets can't be seized for their payment. I hope this is helpful to you.
This response contemplates only the laws of Ohio and is not intended to apply to other jurisdictions. None of the information in this response should be used or relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion about specific matters, facts, situations or issues. Viewing it does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Sherrille D. Akin, the law firm of Isaac, Brant, Ledman & Teetor LLP, or any of its individual attorneys