Owning an RV Can Affect SSI and Medicaid Benefits

AdobeStock_714895354-300x300An RV (recreational vehicle) is a home away from home on wheels that gives you the ability to enjoy a romantic lifestyle of freedom and adventure on the open road. It’s a fabulous way to see the country, and often a cost-effective way to travel. 

It is also, however, a potential liability when it comes to qualifying for critical SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid. 

The Problem: An RV Counts Toward Your Asset Limit (And Could Disqualify You from Receiving Benefits)

Both SSI and Medicaid are “means-tested” benefits, which means that a special needs applicant must meet very specific income and asset limits in order to qualify to receive funds. 

SSI and Medicaid each have their own qualification rules about the maximum an applicant can have in terms of income and assets. These resource limits are very strict, and encompass both money and any possession that can be turned into cash (e.g., property, stocks, bonds, and bank accounts). 

As of 2024, SSI, a federally administered program, states that an applicant can only qualify for benefits if they meet the following criteria:

  • They do not have more than $2,000 in assets
  • They earn less than $1,971 (pre-tax/deductions) per month from work, or receive less than $943 per month from non-work sources such as a retirement fund. 

Medicaid, on the other hand, is administered at the state level, meaning that the qualifying requirements may differ from state to state. In Connecticut, an individual has to fall into one or more of the categories set forth by the state. In 2024, the criteria in Connecticut for an individual to qualify for Medicaid are:

  • No more than $1,600 in assets
  • An income of $2,829 (for Medicaid Waivers) or less per month (Monthly income limit will depend on the type of Medicaid program being applied to.)

There are certain assets that are not included when evaluating eligibility for these programs. These “non-countable” assets include:

  • Personal belongings
  • Household items
  • One automobile
  • The applicant’s primary home

An RV, unless it serves as the applicant’s primary home, does not fall into any of the excluded asset categories. So, if the applicant owns an RV — meaning the title for that vehicle is in their name — that will likely disqualify them for these programs because the value of the RV will increase their total asset value way beyond the limits set for SSI and Medicaid eligibility.

AdobeStock_435232887-300x200A Potential Solution: The Special Needs Trust

If you or a loved one is applying for SSI and Medicaid, but would still like to either retain or acquire an RV, there may be a way to do both. It’s called a special needs trust

A properly set up special needs trust funded by a third party can purchase the RV. This would mean that the purchase would be made in the name of the trust, and the trust would hold the title to the vehicle. The trust would also be responsible for paying for insurance, registration, taxes, and general maintenance and upkeep. In the case of an already-owned RV, the title would need to be transferred into the trust. 

When drafted by an experienced special needs attorney, a special needs trust will protect the asset of the RV and allow the beneficiary of the trust to enjoy using the vehicle for travel and recreation — all without jeopardizing access to SSI or Medicaid benefits. 

If you already own an RV, or are thinking of purchasing one, our special needs attorneys can help you determine the best way to structure a special needs trust that will fit your unique needs. Reach out to us at 860-236-7673. We’d love to help. 

Related Posts:

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Warning: Medicaid Eligibility Varies from State to State

10 Things You Must Ask When Choosing a Trustee for a Special Needs Trust

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