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Medicaid: Determining Which Property is Exempt Home

Determining Which Property is the Exempt Homeplace; Whether Jointly Owned Second Property was Exempt. Petitioner lived at her residence in DeKalb County from 1960 until 2002 when she moved to her daughter’s home on Klondike Road in DeKalb County. From there, Petitioner went to an assisted living facility and then, in December 2006, a nursing home in Union County. Allegedly, Petitioner chose a Union County nursing home because many family members lived in the area. In June 2008, Petitioner filed a Medicaid application seeking nursing home eligibility retroactive to May 1, 2008. DFCS determined she was over resourced because Petitioner owned a property in DeKalb County valued at $137,000, and a 1/3 interest in a Union County property with Petitioner’s interest being valued at $46,196. Petitioner’s two children owned the other two-thirds of the Union County property. Initially she was over resourced by $46,196 because the DeKalb County property was her exempt home (ABD Manual Section 2316) and the Union County property was non-homeplace property under Section 2329. After Petitioner’s application was denied, she requested a hardship waiver under ABD Manual Section 2345, alleging that it would cause her daughter an undue hardship since she was using it as her primary place of residence; however, because the daughter’s affidavit suggested that Petitioner was living with the daughter prior to entering the nursing home, DFCS determined that the Union County property was the exempt home and the DeKalb County property was countable. The result was that Petitioner was now over-resourced by $135,000 instead of $44,196. Petitioner’s daughter registered to vote in Union County and changed the address on her driver’s license to Union County after the initial DFCS denial, but it is unclear whether that occurred before or after denial of the request of an undue hardship. At the fair hearing, the ALJ found that the DeKalb County property was Petitioner’s exempt home. Citing O.C.G.A. §§ 19-2-115-9-3145-2-1Wright v. Goss, 229 Ga. App. 393 (1997); and Dozier v. Baker, 661 S.E.2d 543 (2008), the ALJ concluded that “principal place of residence” means domicile and that Petitioner established her domicile in DeKalb County; further, Petitioner never changed her domicile. The ALJ found that the daughter’s testimony that her domicile was the Union County property was not credible. Citing O.C.G.A. § 24-9-80 (now § 24-6-620) She did not change her voting registration or her driver’s license until after the Medicaid denial and her husband remained at their DeKalb County home where they claimed a homestead property tax exemption. Citing Williams v. Williams, 191 Ga. 437 (1940), the ALJ found that the daughter failed to establish that she changed her domicile to Union County. The eligibility denial was affirmed because the equity value of Petitioner’s one-third interest in the Union County property exceeded the $2,000 resource limit. Note; at page 5 of the decision, the ALJ suggested that if the Union County property was categorized as non-business income producing property, such as rental property that produces a net annual return, then it would be totally excluded under Section 2327. No evidence was offered to support that exclusion.

OSAH-Union-Kennedy-10-1008.pdf (October 10, 2008).

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