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Can Veterans Receive Medicaid?


Nearly one in 10 veterans rely on Medicaid for the primary and specialty healthcare they need. In fact, 1.75 million veterans use Medicaid in some form to cover their medical issues. Medicaid is a safety net for veterans, providing insurance to those who do not have it, and supplementing those who do have insurance, or have Medicare. While veterans may be eligible for Medicaid, there are certain things to take into consideration, things that civilians do not have to worry about. 

Medicaid vs Veteran Affairs Benefits

For veterans who receive Department of Veteran Affairs pension benefits, they usually do not count toward Medicaid eligibility. It is not usually considered to be countable income. If a veteran who receives the benefits enters a nursing home, the benefit is usually reduced to $90, which the veteran is able to keep for personal use. 

Medicaid often covers veterans who are suffering from complex medical issues, like traumatic brain injuries, behavioral and mental health concerns, and chronic health conditions. According to the numbers, 42 percent have two or more chronic health conditions, 54 percent have a disability, 11 percent have severe mental illness, and 12 percent have a substance use disorder. 

For veterans who are considering long-term care options, the choice they make could determine whether Medicaid is the right route to take, or VA benefits. For instance, VA benefits may be a better fit for a veteran who is staying in their home and having help brought in. For a veteran who is entering a nursing facility, Medicaid is a better option. While Medicaid covers home care services, there are often waitlists for those services, and a veteran may be better off accessing those services through their VA pension. 

Income Eligibility Limits

There are income eligibility limits for both Medicaid and VA benefits, and they are similar. However, the way assets are counted in both programs is vastly different. It’s possible for a veteran to qualify for VA benefits, but not Medicaid. There are also differences in the time it takes to get into the program. For Medicaid, a decision is usually made in two months, while VA benefits could take up to a year to decide. For someone who needs care right away, Medicaid may be the way to go. 

Applying for both can be good for the veteran, especially if they have a spouse at home with little to no income. In these cases, part of the pension benefits can be used to help the spouse out at home. Applying for VA benefits and Medicaid may also help a veteran should there be a penalty imposed due to Medicaid planning. In Medicaid planning, assets may be placed into a trust to keep them from being used for Medicaid eligibility. If there is a penalty imposed, the cash assistance from VA benefits will help to pay for things during the duration of the Medicaid penalty. These penalties can be avoided if the person making the transfers know what they are doing. However, it may be best to speak with an experienced elder law attorney who can guide you through this process, and keep everything on the right side of Medicaid rules. 

Private Insurance

While many veterans have private insurance or insurance through the VA, Medicaid helps fill in the gaps for low-income veterans. Of veterans with Medicaid coverage, 39 percent rely on Medicaid as their only source of coverage, while the other 61 percent use it to supplement their private coverage, Medicare, or coverage they have through the military, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Because of the ever-changing nature of these governmental programs, preplanning is becoming more and more important. It is wise to seek professional help from an experienced elder law attorney with Medicaid and VA planning strategies and applications. 

Contact The Mattar Firm

At The Mattar Firm, our experienced elder law attorneys can guide veterans through the Medicaid process. Contact our elder law attorneys now at 239-222-2222.


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