Meeting Ohio’s stringent Medicaid qualifications is often very difficult. To qualify for Medicaid or Medical Assistance (MA) benefits, an individual must be either disabled or over the age of 65 with income and assets that fall below a certain threshold. Understanding Ohio’s Medicaid qualifications—and how you can become eligible before you apply for Medicaid—can simplify an otherwise very complex and nuanced process.

Here are some tips to help you submit a Medicaid application that is more likely to be approved:

1. Understand asset limits and other eligibility requirements. In Ohio, the asset limit for a single applicant is $2,000, or $3,000 for a married couple. Assets include cash, stocks and bonds, investments, checking and/or savings account funds, and income or investment properties. To be approved for Medicaid, you must also have an annual income that is no more than 133% of the federal poverty level. In some situations, establishing a Qualified Income Trust (QIT) can help individuals or couples with higher incomes to qualify for Medicaid, though a QIT cannot offer much help to those with excessive assets.

2. Reduce your estate. There are ways to reduce the size of your estate in order to improve your chances of meeting Ohio’s Medicaid qualifications. However, it is important to keep in mind that Ohio has a strict 5-year look-back period during which Medicaid will track your assets to ensure they were not sold off at under-market values just to ensure Medicaid eligibility. A qualified estate planning or elder law attorney can help you navigate this policy, and the process of “spending down.”

3. Hire an estate planning or elder law attorney. The bottom line is that it’s hard to apply for Medicaid—and even harder to qualify for it. Investing in professional help—a financial advisor, and an estate planning or elder law attorney—can help you maximize your chances of being approved and gaining peace of mind, knowing that the cost of long-tern medical care will not drain the money you’ve worked a lifetime to save, or fall on your family’s shoulders.

Outside of nursing home care, Ohio offers several Medicaid programs that can provide home health care, in-home supports, or assisted living waivers. And if, even after reducing your estate and working with an attorney, you still don’t qualify for Medicaid, ask us about Medicaid planning to help you become eligible for benefits.