In Washington state, people who are 65 and older may qualify for Medicaid to cover the costs of their nursing home care. This may be very important, as the average cost of a room in a nursing home may be quite expensive.

In fact, according to SeniorLiving.org, the average monthly cost of a semiprivate room in a Washington nursing home is $8,669, and the average private room costs $9,718.

Even those people with considerable retirement savings and investments are not likely to be able to afford this continuing care for long. The American Council on Aging explains how a person may qualify for Medicaid assistance to pay for the costs of living in a nursing home in Washington. (All dollar amounts are relevant for 2019.)

Income

In the U.S., the meaning of income varies depending on the circumstances. For example, income for child support purposes is different from what is considered income when it comes to qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

When it comes to Medicaid, every type of income counts. Wages, alimony, Supplemental Security Income, veterans benefits, retirement account withdrawals, investments and money from any other source all contribute to a person’s overall income.

Assets

The senior’s assets also affect eligibility. Unlike income, some assets are exempt. These include the following:

  • Personal property
  • Primary residence (if valued under $585,000)
  • Household furnishings
  • Vehicle
  • Irrevocable burial trust

Nonexempt assets include investments, savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, cash and real estate that is not the primary residence.

Limits

The income limit changes based on whether the senior is single or married, and if married, whether one or both spouses are moving into the nursing home.

If the senior is single, the income limit is $2,313/month and the asset limit is $2,000. Married seniors who are both applying have a combined income limit of $4,626/month and a combined asset limit of $3,000. If only one spouse is applying, the nonapplicant spouse may keep up to $126,420 in assets, and the applicant spouse has the same limits as a single applicant.