Many aged individuals in New Jersey plan on utilizing Medicaid benefits to pay for their long-term care needs. However, it is important to understand how Medicaid has changed over the years. Eligibility hinges on a person’s income level, but with Medicaid expansion, more people have been able to apply for and receive benefits.

Through the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey was able to extend its Medicaid program in 2014 by using federal funds. In fact, from autumn 2013 through November 2017, the number of people enrolled in Medicaid in New Jersey reached almost 460,000 — a 36% increase. This means that the number of people without health insurance dropped to 8% in 2016.

Those who are aged, blind or have a disability may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. Low income individuals, children living in low income households and low income pregnant women may also be able to seek Medicaid benefits if their incomes are under a certain threshold. However, the expansion of Medicaid in New Jersey is still dependent on the receipt of federal funding.

Medicaid can be an important part of long-term care planning for the aged in New Jersey. However, to qualify, a person’s income and assets cannot exceed a certain level. For this reason, some people choose to utilize special needs trusts and other asset protection strategies to transfer assets in a way that decreases their income. However, due to the five year look back period, it is important that people take timing into consideration before transferring assets. Elder law attorneys understand what strategies are available to those seeking Medicaid benefits and may be a useful resource.