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Medicaid and Car Ownership: What to Know

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Getting financial support in the United States can be tricky, especially in the medical sphere. Our healthcare system is not always the easiest to navigate and requires that you put in lots of time, energy, and money to reap the benefits.

If you’re from a low income family it can be even more difficult as you need to make sure you qualify for assistance programs like Medicaid before you sign up. All of your financial information will be taken into account, from your monthly income to other non-liquid assets, including valuables like your vehicle, to determine whether you should be able to receive medical benefits.

Sounds complicated, right? CoPilot is here to help straighten out some of the details. In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the intricacies of Medicaid and car ownership. Let’s dive in.

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is the largest source of health care coverage in the US. It is both a federal and state-run program that serves over 72 million people nationwide, including low-income families, elderly retirees, children in foster care, disabled individuals, and more.

Medicaid is meant to serve people considered under the federal poverty limit, or those who can’t afford to pay for health insurance, or don’t receive health insurance from their place of work. It is made for those people who truly need it, and recipients will be asked to periodically prove their poverty status or other eligibility markers to ensure they still qualify.

Medicaid sets limits not only on income but also on liquid and non-liquid assets in a person’s possession which help define your financial status. As we mentioned earlier, this does include your car.


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Social Security Disability Insurance vs. Medicaid

The first thing to know is that Medicaid does place restrictions on how many vehicles you can own and still qualify.

If you qualify for SSDI you will likely be automatically considered for Medicaid, although you are not obligated to accept it. SSDI is different from Medicaid in that there are other ways you can qualify for it, as well as the limits placed on your income and assets.

SSDI qualification is based on “disability and work credits,” and has less stringent rules for what you can and can’t own. For example there is no limit on the number of vehicles you may have in your name on SSDI.

Because Medicaid eligibility is determined almost exclusively by financial information, the relationship between Medicaid and car ownership is slightly more complicated. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.


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Rules and Regulations for Medicaid and Car Ownership

At the federal level, Medicaid applicants can make no more than $2,382 per month, and may possess no more than $2,000 in stocks, bonds, and other liquid assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. Because cost of living can vary dramatically depending on which state you live in, your liquid assets may be more than the federal limit. You can find out what it is for you by visiting your state’s government website.

Medicaid also takes your vehicle into account as an asset, and limits each Medicaid recipient to one “non-countable” vehicle in order to qualify. Other vehicles are generally considered extra unless they are very damaged or undriveable.


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Medicaid and Car Ownership: Vehicle Exemption Rules.

You may be able to possess more than one vehicle and still qualify for Medicaid through a number of

different exemption rules, regardless of the car’s total value.

If you own a vehicle which does not fall into these five categories and is not your primary mode of transportation otherwise, it is considered an “asset of your estate,” and will be counted as extra.

Furthermore, the value of your non-exempt vehicle should not be above $4,500. Any dollar amount above this number will be counted towards your $2,000 limit. If you do have a car which could potentially disqualify you for Medicaid, you can sell that vehicle and “spend down” the return by paying off debts, purchasing funeral funds, or making accessibility modifications to your home.

See if you qualify with one or more of the points listed below.

  1. You need your vehicle for work. If you need your car or truck to get to and from work, or if you depend on your car or truck for your job, or if your vehicle is an integral part of your job, it does not count as an asset. This applies to delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, contractors, private transportation drivers, commuters without access to public transportation, couriers, and more.
  2. You need your vehicle to get to medical appointments. This is especially true for elderly individuals, people with chronic or terminal illnesses, and those with long-term disabilities. If you don’t have easy access to public transportation, can’t use public transportation for any reason, require a speciality vehicle which you own to get around even if you are only leaving your home to get to medical appointments with doctors or other specialists, your vehicle is exempt.
  3. You need your vehicle for transportation in a rural area. If you live in a remote or sparsely-populated place where public transportation does not exist, your vehicle is exempt as a disqualifying asset for Medicaid. This means if you live very far away from necessities like grocery stores, hospitals, and other day-to-day resources, from metropolitan areas, from your children’s school, from your place of work, or other obligate aspects of life that you need to drive to in order to access.
  4. Your vehicle has been modified to accommodate a disabled individual. If you, a member of your family, or a client has physical accessibility requirements which necessitate the modification of your vehicle, it becomes exempt.

This includes such modifications as wheelchair ramps or lifts, left-foot accelerators and brakes, modified seat belts, raised roofs, dropped floors, modified seats, modified steering wheels, automatic doors, modified ignition controls, and more. 5. Your vehicle has been transferred to your spouse. If you take a vehicle out of your name and place it under a partner or other close family member, it is exempt and will not be taken into account as a disqualifying asset on your Medicaid application.

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