Medicaid Countable Assets  

Countable and Non-Countable Assets

The Medicaid program does not consider every asset belonging to an applicant or a couple to be "countable" for purposes of eligibility. If an asset is "non-countable," it is ignored for purposes of determining how much property the individual or the couple owns.

Non-countable property may be targeted for other purposes — for example, for purposes of recovering the amount that Medicaid paid for an individual’s care from his or her estate after death. But for purposes of determining whether the individual has more than $2,000 in assets at the time of application, or for determining his or her spouse’s CSRA [go to Medicare and Medicaid,, section on CSRA] at that time, it is as if the individual or the couple did not own the non-countable asset.

Countable and non-countable assets are listed below. To learn more about any of these terms, click on it and a definition or other information will appear.

Countable Assets

1. Cash.

2. Bank deposits.

"Bank deposits" include any savings, checking, term deposit ("CD") or other account of any kind in any financial institution. Money that is held jointly with another in a bank is treated as if all of it belongs to the applicant or his or her spouse, including money that has been set up as a trust account for someone else. The burden is on the applicant to prove that any funds in a joint account were not his or hers before they were put into the account.

3. IRA’s, Keogh plans, pension funds and annuities.

An "IRA" is an individual retirement account that you maintain at a bank under special rules that allow you to avoid income tax until you are retirement age. Tax laws impose a financial penalty for early withdrawal of IRA money, but this fact does not prevent such accounts from being considered countable assets under Medicaid rules.

A Keogh plan is like an IRA, but it is operated by your employer. Like an IRA, a Keogh incurs a financial penalty for early withdrawal, but this fact does not prevent it from being considered a countable asset under Medicaid rules.

Your pension fund is countable as an asset only to the extent that you have the right to remove the funds as a lump sum. If you do not have this right, your pension payment is income, but the fund itself is not a countable asset.

Like a pension, an annuity is countable only to the extent that you can remove the funds as a lump sum. Very few policies give you this right after they have begun to pay out monthly amounts, but you should read your policy carefully to see whether and to what extent it can be cashed out.

4. Securities.

"Securities" means stocks, bonds (including government bonds and Treasury bills), stock options, futures contracts, debentures, mutual funds, money market funds, promissory notes and other financial instruments of any kind.

Unlike bank accounts, jointly held securities are not presumed to belong entirely to the applicant or his or her spouse. Rather, they are presumed to be owned by those persons in whatever percentage appears on the ownership certificate. A different percentage of ownership may be accepted if the applicant can prove that the securities actually belong to someone else.

Securities that are traded publicly are valued as of the most recent closing bid price. Securities that cannot be traded are valued at whatever equity value they may have. If there is no market for a security and it has no equity value, or if it cannot be reached for some reason, it is not considered countable.

5. Cash surrender value ("CSV") of life insurance policies.

The CSV of an insurance policy is the amount of money that has been saved inside the policy at the time it is canceled, including both a part of the premiums and all of the interest that has been earned since the policy was started. Old policies sometimes have a large CSV.

Group policies do not accumulate CSV for the owner. Only "whole life," "universal life" and similar policies have this feature. Often such policies also allow the owner to take out reduced-interest loans of CSV while the insured is alive. Such loan proceeds would be countable as cash assets if a loan has been taken out, unless the proceeds are spent on consumable or non-countable assets.


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