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What is a Miller Trust? Do I need one?

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2016 | Firm News, Medicaid And Medicare |

If you or a loved one needs Medicaid services in Ohio, new changes to the law can affect your eligibility. As of July 2016, Ohio residents earning over a monthly income cap must create a Miller Trust to continue receiving needed services.

What is a Miller Trust?

A Miller Trust, sometimes known as a Qualifying Income Trust (QIT), helps adults receiving Medicaid services while managing their assets. Formerly, if you earned more money than the Medicaid limit, you could not receive Medicaid services until you spent your excess income. Thus, adults would spend their money on their medical care, receiving Medicaid benefits once they had “spent down” their assets.

Now, Ohio families can deposit the excess money in a Miller Trust, without going through the spend down process, then receive Medicaid services. The assets in the trust can be used for personal medical expenses. Miller Trust income exclusions may allow your spouse to take income from the trust, or cover other expenses.

Ohio sets a Medicaid income limit annually. For 2016, the income limit is $2,199.00 per month. Anyone who receives income over the limit must create a Miller Trust, including nursing home residents. If you earn less than $2,199.00 per month, you do not need to create a trust to continue receiving Medicaid care.

Social Security income, pension payments and Veterans benefits also count toward the monthly income cap.

What the Miller Trust means for Medicaid eligibility

The goal of the Miller Trust is to streamline the Medicaid process by eliminating regular reviews of recipient income versus medical expenses. Medicaid recipients had their income reviewed annually to ensure they still qualified for care. While the annual eligibility review will still occur, the state of Ohio hopes the new trust requirements will make the process easier for Medicaid recipients, their caregivers and their loved ones.

With a Miller Trust, you will remain eligible for Medicaid as long as you follow these requirements:

  • Name the State of Ohio as the trust’s beneficiary
  • Only deposit your extra income (not your spouse’s or any other earned income)
  • Remain irrevocable (you cannot change the trust once it’s established)

Any money set aside can lawfully be used to cover bank fees to maintain the trust, medical expenses and personal needs.

Ohio has hired a contractor to help individuals create Miller Trusts before the deadline. Anyone who does not create their trust risks losing Medicaid benefits. It is wise to seek help from an elder law attorney who understands the Medicaid coverage process. Seeking legal advice can help you comply with the new law and avoid an interruption to Medicaid benefits.

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