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Determining The Medicaid Snapshot Date — How Does Medicaid Do It?

Determining The Medicaid Snapshot Date — How Does Medicaid Do It?
July 6, 2021

Married couples have many things they need to understand and consider when one spouse is beginning to think about Medicaid planning or is looking to obtain Medicaid benefits. They not only need to make sure that eligibility requirements are met, but they also have to have a thorough understanding of certain details that can impact their case, such as whether a previous institutionalization will affect their Medicaid snapshot date.

Fortunately, to help clear up some of this confusion and provide you with the information you need to know, this blog post will discuss Medicaid snapshot dates in more detail and help you understand how Medicaid determines this date. 

What Exactly is the Medicaid Snapshot Date and What Does It Calculate?

This date is when Medicaid takes a financial snapshot or "picture" of a couple's assets. The Medicaid snapshot date is only applicable to a couple who is married, in which one of the spouses is an applicant for long-term care. Although Medicaid has both asset limits and income limits to determine Medicaid eligibility, only the couple's assets are relevant for purposes of this date.

Typically, a Medicaid agency will consider all assets of a married couple to be jointly owned. As a result, the snapshot date will be used to calculate the number of assets the non-applicant spouse (or the community spouse) can keep.  What does this mean exactly? Spousal impoverishment regulations allow the community spouse to retain some of their assets through a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), which ensures that the spouse does not deplete all of their resources and savings so that their loved-one can meet Medicaid's asset criteria. 

Determining the Medicaid Snapshot Date 

The Medicaid snapshot date is the first day on which the applicant was institutionalized continuously in a facility such as a VA facility, hospital, or nursing home. According to federal regulations, this date must also be the first time a person was committed for at least 30 days without returning home from the facility.

This snapshot date usually occurs before a person applies for nursing home Medicaid, and if an individual has more than one stay that qualifies as a snapshot date, then the first period they were committed will be used. However, for long-term care in which the individual receives services or benefits in their home or community, the snapshot date is typically the date of one's Medicaid application or the date of their functional needs assessment, which determines functional eligibility. 

What is Needed to Figure Out the Medicaid Snapshot Date? 

This "snapshot" is usually done with a specific form referred to as the asset declaration form and with the submission of certain financial documents. The form will be completed to reflect the assets that are owned by the non-applicant spouse and the applicant spouse on the snapshot date. While the financial documentation will be submitted to prove ownership and the value of the assets at the time of the "snapshot."

From there, to determine the community spouse's allowance, Medicaid will review the couple's finances as of the snapshot date and divide the amount in two. Once this amount is calculated, the non-applying spouse can be eligible to keep half of the countable assets as of that date. However, these assets cannot fall below the minimum CSRA or exceed the maximum CSRA.

What is Counted Towards Medicaid's Asset Limit?

It is important to point out that not all assets will be counted towards Medicaid's asset limit. For example, household furnishings, the primary home, certain personal belongings, irrevocable burial trusts, and motor vehicles will typically be exempt from the limit. On the other hand, countable assets can include saving accounts, checking accounts, credit union, stocks and bonds, cash, investments, and real estate that is not the primary home.

The Look-Back Period

Couples also need to be aware that Florida has a look-back period, which is the period of 60 months that precedes an individual's Medicaid application date. During this period, the Medicaid agency will verify that no assets were given away or sold under fair market value. If anything like that is found, it can violate the look-back period, and penalties can ensue. 

Plan Ahead, Get The Help You Need, Work with an Experienced Medicaid Lawyer

Determining Medicaid's snapshot date and calculating assets can be a complex, difficult, and at times tedious process. It is easy to make a mistake or do it incorrectly when you try to tackle this process on your own. Fortunately, you do not have to. When you retain a knowledgeable and skilled Medicaid planning attorney, they can help you establish not only the snapshot date but also calculate the value of the countable assets, the number of assets the non-applicant spouse can keep, and help implement other planning strategies to maximize the number of assets that can be retained. 

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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