Nursing home and other long-term care costs can be extremely high for the people in need of care and their families. Medicaid and other federal programs may help those in need to pay for long-term care costs. In some states, including Colorado, eligibility for Medicaid assistance with nursing home care is dependent on a person’s income rather than their need. In Colorado, it is common for someone who legitimately cannot afford long-term care to make too much money to qualify for Medicaid assistance.
In Colorado, the Medicaid income limit for 2021 is generally $2382. Persons who generate more than this amount of income will not be eligible for Medicaid assistance in paying for long-term care or nursing home costs. Most long-term care facilities and nursing homes will cost substantially more than this amount for care, and many people with income above the limit will be unable to afford the care they need without additional assistance. With the help of a Colorado estate planning attorney, however, people in need of care may be able to use what is called a qualified income trust to sequester some of their income for care costs while still maintaining Medicaid eligibility and receiving federal benefits.
A qualified income trust, also known as a Miller trust, is a specific legal instrument that is used to manage a person’s income. Income that is deposited in the trust account is not counted toward the income limit for Medicaid eligibility. Miller trusts require a trustee to be appointed to manage the income and expenses of the account. In order to successfully establish a qualified income trust, a person must meet the other requirements for Medicaid eligibility, including a medical need for care, as well as owning less than $2000 in countable assets.