Q: If a person on SSI/medicaid wanted to go on a cruise, are they able to pay for their caretaker's ticket without penalty?
I'm physically disabled from brain cancer. I require a wheelchair, receive SSI/Medicaid and have a registered in-home caretaker from the state of Michigan. I would like to go on a cruise, but it would be necessary that my caretaker come along with me. Can I pay for their ticket and have it count toward a "spend down" of a $10,000 inheritance that I received?
A: The $10,000 inheritance is disqualifying income in the month of receipt. There is not much you can do about that. If you still have that money on hand on the first day of the following month, sitting in a regular ol' checking account, for example, it will be a countable asset and that will again disqualify you as being over resourced.
The key minimizing the damage to your benefits is to "get rid of" the money in the same month as it is received. There is more than one way to do this. Yes, spending it on whatever you want that does not create a countable asset is one way to do it. You could go on a cruise and, yes, pay a caregiver to accompany you.
There are other options as well, depending on your circumstances. You might be eligible to open an ABLE account or create a first-party special needs trust, or maybe you would like to put the money in a pooled trust. An experienced elder law attorney can help you determine which option is best for you.
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