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Qualifying for Medicaid with the help of Pooled Income Trusts

CenterLight Assistant Director of Intake Jin Kim Smith

This blog features a Q & A about pooled income trusts with Jin Kim Smith, Assistant Director of Intake Operations at CenterLight Teamcare.

When it comes to affording home care services, many older adults face one of two difficult financial scenarios:

Scenario A:

You may have enough income to cover living expenses, but not enough left over to pay for required home care services, which can often run thousands of dollars a month.

Scenario B:

You apply for Medicaid covered home services. However, to be Medicaid eligible, you must "spend down"  any excess income by spending it on medical care or paying excess income to your local department of social services or managed long-term care plan. For example, an individual who is not enrolled in a managed long-term care plan may pay their excess income to the Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services if their income is above Medicaid eligibility levels. If an individual is enrolled in a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) or another managed long-term care plan, they will pay their excess income directly to the plan.

Luckily, there’s another alternative.

Older and disabled adults can contribute their excess income to a pooled trust, which in turn uses the funds to pay the patient’s bills, as well as allowing them to pay for other living expenses. Qualifying medical expenses will then be covered by Medicaid.

Below, Jin Kim Smith, Assistant Director of Intake Operations at CenterLight, explains how pooled trusts allow individuals to qualify for Medicaid outside of specific income ranges.

elderly couple on the computer

What’s a pooled trust?

JKS: It’s a special type of trust that allows individuals to become financially eligible for public assistance benefits, like Medicaid, while preserving their income resources in trust for living expenses and supplemental needs.

They’re not necessarily for everyone, but for many people, joining a pooled trust can allow them to receive the public benefits that meet their essential medical needs while maintaining an additional fund to meet their special or supplemental needs.

What are some other factors to consider?

JKS: Once seniors agree to contribute their income to a pooled trust, the pooled trust organization will directly disburse payments to the third party/vendor (like their landlord, for example) for expenses, such as rent, utilities, phone and food.

For what items can the Pooled Income Trust funds be used?

JKS: These funds can be used for virtually all of life’s basic needs.

  • Clothing, food and shelter

  • Homeowner expenses including real estate taxes, utilities and insurance

  • Rental expenses

  • Supplemental home care and eldercare services

  • Entertainment and travel expenses

  • Any other expense not provided by government assistance programs

  • Depending on your situation, there may be other uses permitted for the funds as well!

Next time, we’ll share options for setting up a pooled trust for you or your loved one. In the meantime, if you have any questions related to pooled trusts, call 1-877-212-8877, email, or fill out our contact form!

CenterLight Teamcare is committed to providing accurate health-related information to help individuals live well, stay healthy and make well-informed healthcare and health-related decisions. Information in this material is strictly educational. .


H3329_2019_BLOGPooledTrust Approved 07232019
Last updated July 3, 2019

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