Q&A: Can turning 65 impact MassHealth eligibility?

Corinne Lofchie is an Elder Care Advisor and SHINE Counselor at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services

Q: Can turning 65 impact MassHealth eligibility?

A:  Yes, the eligibility rules for MassHealth change in a couple of important ways when people turn 65.

The income limit goes down when you turn 65. There are some people who have had MassHealth their whole life, due to a disability, and then they turn 65 and they are no long eligible, because their income is a little too high.

The exact number often changes from year to year. The Aging Information Center at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services provides free guidance on MassHealth eligibility, and I would advise residents who are turning 65 and have questions to get in touch.

The other big change is that when you are under 65 there is no asset limit. MassHealth does not look at your savings– you can have a large bank account or trust or things like that. But once you turn 65, they look at your assets. You can only have up to $2,000 in savings, although there are certain types of assets that are not counted towards this limit. That number has not changed in a long time, and there have been efforts to increase it, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.

It can be very helpful to call the Aging Information Center before turning 65, as there may be some simple steps that can allow you maintain MassHealth coverage. Depending on the types of assets a person has, we may also refer them to an elder law attorney for further guidance.

If someone has already lost their MassHealth after turning 65, we may also be able to help them to get back onto MassHealth, depending on their financial situation.

We get calls from people about this, and unfortunately, it is usually after the fact. They’ll lose their MassHealth coverage and not know why, so they’ll call us. As with many things in life, planning ahead and speaking to someone before the loss of insurance coverage can help things go smoother.

Corinne Lofchie, LICSW is an Elder Care Advisor at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES), a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, check out the Things to Know When Turning 65 episode of Aging Well at the SCES Youtube Channel, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 or info@eldercare.org for free advice and guidance.