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Beware of what may cause you to lose your Medicaid benefits

Many individuals who participate in government programs such as Medicaid rely on the benefits that they receive for their survival. They wouldn't want to do anything that would jeopardize their access to health care or the other benefits they receive. It's important for anyone who receives government benefits to learn what can affect their eligibility for them.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), each state is responsible for determining whether one of their residents is eligible to receive Medicaid. North Carolina and other states take into account what assets you have in order to make this determination.

Some of the assets they consider include stocks and bonds, certificates of deposit and checking and savings accounts. They'll also look to see if you own any secondary real estate beyond your primary residence. They will want to know if you own more than a single automobile as well.

There are certain assets that state officials don't consider when determining your eligibility for Medicaid. Your primary residence or vehicle and your personal belongings generally cannot make you ineligible for benefits.

If you have a life insurance policy with a face value of less than $1,500, this will likely not make you ineligible either. Neither will any pre-need burial arrangements or any funds set aside for the same purpose, as long as the amount doesn't exceed $1,500. State officials also can't consider money or assets held in certain types of trusts when determining Medicaid eligibility.

Individuals wishing to qualify for or preserve their eligibility for Medicaid may be limited in the amount of equity that they can have built up in their home. Their jointly owned home may be deemed to belong to just the recipient. If this occurs, then this may affect their eligibility for benefits.

Recipients may be able to retain $2,000 in countable assets and still receive Medicaid benefits. If they're married, then this amount may be increased to $3,000. The exact amount of countable assets that you can have varies by state.

When many individuals hear the words "estate planning," they think about wills, health care directives and maybe trusts. Many people don't know that it also involves protecting their eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid. An estate planning attorney can advise you about how to you can best go about protecting your assets and your beneficiaries.

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