When doing Medicaid or Medical Assistance planning (also known as long term care planning), it is helpful to know what figures are used by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (formerly the Department of Public Welfare) to determine when an individual is eligible for Medicaid.  These figures usually increase every year.  For 2015, DHS has increased many categories involved with Medicaid for Pennsylvania residents.  

The Social Security Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board have already announced their cost of living adjustments for 2015 while the Veterans Administration will publish its increases in the near future. Some of the DHS figures announced for 2015 are as follows:

1)  The daily cost of nursing home care has increased to $293.15 (up from $288.21 in 2014), which makes the average monthly cost of care equal $8,916.65.  Because the cost of nursing care continues to rise, long term care planning to help protect assets is even more important.  When I began doing Medicaid planning, the average monthly cost of nursing home care was only $3,600.00, a far cry from today’s expense.

2)   The maximum protected share for a community spouse (one whose spouse is in a nursing home) has increased to $119,200 while the minimum protected share has increased to $23,844.  This protected share of liquid assets, like checking and savings accounts or investment accounts, is in addition to the exempt assets which can be protected, such as the family home, household furnishings and personal effects, one car, cemetery plots, pre-paid funerals for both spouses, a limited amount of life insurance and the community spouse’s retirement accounts.  Medicaid planning done early, or even during a time of crisis, with an elder law attorney can help your family protect as much as possible should a spouse require nursing home care.