You are now leaving medicareresources.org and will continue to shop for Medicare plans with our partner, eHealth. ehealth

Financial help for Illinois Medicare enrollees

Medicaid estate recovery in Illinois applies to beneficiaries who receive Aid for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD)

Image: WavebreakMediaMicro / stock.adobe.com

As a Medicare beneficiary, where you live – meaning your state of residence – can have a significant impact on the care that you receive and how you pay for that care during your “golden years.” This page explains how Illinois’s regulations and policies are likely to affect your bottom line.

Does Illinois help with my Medicare premiums?

Many Medicare beneficiaries who struggle to afford the cost of Medicare coverage are eligible for help through a Medicare Savings Program (MSP). In Washington, D.C., this program pays for Medicare Part B premiums, Medicare Part A and B cost-sharing, and – in some cases – Part A premiums.

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB): The income limit is $1,088 a month if single or $1,462 a month if married. QMB pays for Part A and B cost sharing, Part B premiums, and – if a beneficiary owes them – it also pays their Part A premiums.
  • Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB): The income limit is from QMB levels up to $1,301 a month if single or $1,749 a month if married. SLMB pays for Part B premiums.
  • Qualifying Individuals (QI): The income limit is from SLMB levels up to $1,461 a month if single or $1,965 a month if married. QI pays for Part B premiums.
  • Qualified Disabled Working Individuals (QDWI): The income limit is $2,126 a month if living alone and $2,873 a month if living with one other person. QDWI pays the Part A premiums (but not Part B premiums) owed by certain disabled beneficiaries who have returned to work.

MSP asset limits: Illinois uses the federal asset limits for QMB, SLMB and QI – which is $7,860 if single and $11,800 if married. The QDWI asset limit is $4,000 if living alone and $6,000 if living with others.


Who’s eligible for Medicaid for the aged, blind and disabled in Illinois?

Medicare covers a wide range of services – including hospitalization, physician services, and prescription drugs – but Original Medicare doesn’t cover important services like vision and dental benefits. Some beneficiaries – those whose incomes make them eligible for Medicaid – can receive coverage for those additional services if they’re enrolled in Medicaid for the aged, blind and disabled (ABD).

In Illinois, Medicaid ABD now covers extensive dental benefits for adults. These services were added to the Medicaid benefit applicable to Medicare beneficiaries in 2019, and are available for a small co-payment.

Medicaid ABD also covers one pair of eyeglasses every two years for adults.

In Illinois, Medicaid ABD is called Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD).

Income eligibility: The income limit is $1,063 a month if single and $1,437 a month if married.

Asset limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married.

Help with prescription drug expenses in Illinois

Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicaid, an MSP, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also receive Extra Help – a federal program that lowers prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D. Beneficiaries can also apply for Extra Help if they don’t receive it automatically. The income limit is $1,615 a month for singles and $2,175 a month for couples, and the asset limit is $14,610 for individuals and $29,160 for spouses.

How does Illinois regulate long-term services and supports (LTSS)?

Medicare beneficiaries increasingly rely on long-term services and supports (LTSS) – or long-term care – which is mostly not covered by Medicare. In fact, 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who lived at home received some assistance with LTSS in 2015, and the portion of enrollees needing these services will increase as the population ages.

Today's Medicare Poll

medicare-poll

Do you feel you're being bombarded by Medicare marketing?

Medicaid fills this gap in Medicare coverage for long-term care, but its complex eligibility rules can make qualifying for benefits difficult. What’s more – eligibility rules vary significantly from state to state.

Applicants for Medicaid long-term care benefits have to undergo a needs assessment.

Medicaid nursing home coverage

Most seniors used to receive long-term care in nursing homes. Today, more beneficiaries receive those services at home. But some seniors have medical or living situations that make nursing home care a better choice.

Income limits: The income limit is $1,063 a month if single and $1,437 a month if married (and both spouses are applying).

If only one spouse needs Medicaid, the income limit for single applicants is used – and usually only the applicant’s income is counted.

Note that nursing home enrollees are not allowed to keep their income up to this limit, and have to pay all but a small portion of it to their nursing home. Enrollees can keep a $30 personal needs allowance and money to pay for health insurance premiums (such as Medicare Part B and Medigap).

Assets limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married (and both spouses are applying). Spousal impoverishment rules allow spouses who don’t need Medicaid to keep up to $109,560.

Certain assets are never counted, including many household effects, family heirlooms, certain prepaid burial arrangements, and one car.

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers

Every state’s Medicaid program covers community-based long-term services, which are provided in an enrollee’s home, adult day care center, or another community setting. Programs that pay for these services are called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers because recipients continue living in the community, rather than entering a nursing home.

Income limits: The income limit is $1,063 a month if single and $1,437 a month if married (and both spouses are applying).

If only one spouse needs Medicaid, the income limit for single applicants is used – and usually only the applicant’s income is counted.

Asset limits: The asset limit is $2,000 if single and $3,000 if married (and both spouses are applying). Spouses who don’t need Medicaid can keep up to $109,560.

Spousal impoverishment protections in Illinois

Eligibility rules for Medicaid LTSS programs differ from other Medicaid benefits when only one spouse is applying. When this occurs, only the applying spouse’s income is counted. (Normally with Medicaid benefits, the income of both spouses is counted – regardless of who is applying.)

Spousal impoverishment rules allow the “community spouses” of Medicaid LTSS recipients (i.e. the spouses who do not receive Medicaid) to keep a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) from their Medicaid spouse’s monthly income.

In Illinois in 2020, these spousal impoverishment rules allow community spouses to keep:

  • An MMMNA that is $2,739 a month.
  • A Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) that is $109,560.

Permitted home value in Illinois

Federal law requires states to restrict eligibility for Medicaid nursing home and HCBS to applicants with a home equity interest below a specific dollar amount. In 2020, states set these home equity levels based on a federal minimum of $595,000 and maximum of $893,000.

Illinois requires Medicaid LTSS applicants to have no more than $595,000 in home equity.

Penalties for transferring assets in Illinois

Because long-term care is expensive, individuals sometimes have an incentive to give away or transfer assets to others to become eligible for Medicaid LTSS benefits. To curb asset transfers, federal law requires states to have a penalty period for Medicaid LTSS applicants who give away or transfer assets for less than their value. States can also have a penalty period for HCBS. Medicaid will not pay for LTSS during this penalty period.

Illinois has an asset transfer penalty for nursing home care and HCBS. This penalty is based on a 60-month lookback period during which asset transfers and gifts are prohibited. The penalty’s length is determined by dividing the amount of money transferred or given away by the monthly cost of care in the enrollee’s nursing home.

This website contains more information on the asset transfer penalty in Illinois.

Estate recovery in Illinois

Medicaid agencies have to attempt to recover what they paid for long-term care related costs while a beneficiary was 55 or older. The law also allows states to recover the cost of all other Medicaid benefits received beginning at that age. This is called estate recovery.

Illinois has chosen to recover the cost of all Medicaid benefits from every Medicaid AABD enrollee who was 55 or older. The state also recovers from the estates of younger enrollees if they were “permanently institutionalized.” But unlike some other states, Medicaid estate recovery is not used for non-AABD enrollees, so Medicaid expansion enrollees in Illinois are not subject to Medicaid estate recovery.

Congress exempted Medicare premiums and cost sharing from Medicaid estate recovery starting with benefits paid after December 31, 2009, but Medicaid may try to recover MSP benefits paid through that date.

Where can Medicare beneficiaries get help in Illinois?

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

You can receive free volunteer Medicare counseling is available by contacting Illinois’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 800-252-8966.

SHIPs can help beneficiaries enroll in Medicare, compare and change Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and answer questions about state Medigap protections. SHIP counselors may also be able to offer referrals to local agencies for services like home care and long-term care. This website contains more information about the Illinois SHIP.

Elder Law Attorneys

Elder law attorneys can help individuals plan for Medicaid long-term care benefits. You can use the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) search feature to find an elder attorney locally.

How do I apply for Medicaid in Illinois?

Medicaid is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Illinois. You can use this website to apply for Medicaid AABD or an MSP in Illinois.


Josh Schultz has a strong background in Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. He coordinated a Medicare ombudsman contract at the Medicare Rights Center in New York City, and represented clients in extensive Medicare claims and appeals. In addition to advocacy work, Josh helped implement health insurance exchanges at the technology firm hCentive. He has also held consulting roles, including at Sachs Policy Group, where he worked with hospital, insurer, and technology clients.

Affordable Medicare Plans

Since 2011, we’ve helped more than 2.5 million Americans.

(Step 1 of 2)

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x