What are the MassHealth eligibility requirements for nursing home benefits?

MassHealth is the federal Medicaid program as administered in this state.  In order to be eligible for nursing home benefits under MassHealth, an applicant must have assets of no more than $2,000, including both retirement and non-retirement assets.  An applicant’s spouse may keep approximately $110,000.  There is no limit on income, but the bulk of the applicant’s income must be paid to the nursing home each month for her care.  At the time of applying, an applicant must provide MassHealth with bank statements for a period of 60 months before the date of the application.  This 5-year period is called the “look-back period.”  Any transfer of assets during this time, whether a gift of cash or a transfer of interest in real estate, that is deemed by MassHealth to be a “disqualifying transfer” (i.e., one that was made for the purpose of depleting assets in order to qualify for MassHealth), will result in ineligibility.  The period of ineligibility is one month for every $8,370 transferred (as of 2012 – this figure is adjusted yearly).