Each state has different eligibility requirements for the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). For instance, while all states require that applicants meet monthly income limits, those limits may vary from state to state. It is important to know that many states require you to apply for any money you might be eligible for, including Social Security retirement benefits, in order to qualify for an MSP.
Some states also have asset limits for MSPs. Assets are resources such as savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, and real estate. In all states, there are certain resources that will never be counted as assets. These include:
- Your primary house
- One car
- Household goods and wedding/ engagement rings
- Burial spaces
- Burial funds up to $1,500 per person
- Life insurance with a cash value of less than $1,500
Some states may exclude other types of assets as well.
For states with MSP asset limits, these limits must be at least as high as the asset limit for Extra Help. Extra Help is the federal program that helps with Part D prescription drug costs if you meet the income and asset requirements. This change helps more people become eligible for MSPs and was a result of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA).
In 2020, the asset limits for full Extra Help are $9,360 for individuals and $14,800 for couples. There is an automatic disregard (subtraction) of $1,500 from these limits for burial funds. This means that you could be eligible for an MSP with assets totaling $7,730 for individuals and $11,600 for couples. MSP limits appear lower than Extra Help limits because they do not automatically include burial funds. This means that the $1,500 disregard for MSP eligibility typically will not apply unless you prove that you have set aside these funds in a designated account or in a pre-paid burial fund.
Remember that some states have higher or no MSP asset limits*. Call your local Medicaid office or State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for more information about MSPs in your state.
* Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia do not have asset limits for MSPs (as of January 2019).