Prior Occupancy of Home Not Required for It to Be Excluded as an Available Resource

A Texas appeals court rules that a couple who purchased a half interest in their daughter’s home after they moved into a nursing home were eligible for Medicaid, and the house is not a countable resource for Medicaid eligibility purposes because they intended to move there if they were discharged. Texas Health and Human Services Commission v. Estate of Burt (Tex. Ct. App., 3rd Dist., No.03-20-00462-CV, April 21, 2022).

Clyde and Dorothy Burt entered a nursing home and purchased a half interest in their daughter’s home, intending to move into it if they were discharged from the nursing home. The Burts applied for Medicaid benefits, designating the home as their place of residency. The Medicaid agency determined that the house was a countable resource and denied their application. The Burts died before leaving the nursing home, owing it $23,479.35.

The Burts’ daughter sought judicial review after a hearing officer upheld the Medicaid agency’s decision. She argued that her parents’ home was not a countable resource for Medicaid eligibility purposes. The trial court agreed, ruling that requiring a Medicaid recipient to establish prior occupancy of a principal residence before excluding it as a resource was unreasonable and that substantial evidence did not support the agency’s interpretation of the applicable rule.

The Court of Appeals of Texas affirms, holding that the Medicaid agency should not require a Medicaid applicant to establish “prior occupancy” of a home before it can be excluded as an available resource. The court looked at references in Social Security manuals that define “place of residence” as “the dwelling an individual considers his or her established or principal home and to which he or she intends to return.” The court rules that because the Burts intended to move to their daughter’s home if they could leave the nursing home, the house is not an available resource.

For the full text of this decision, go to:

Did you know that the ElderLawAnswers database now contains summaries of more than 2,000 fully searchable elder law decisions dating back to 1993? To search the database, click here.