How To Apply For Medicaid

When you are a senior citizen or a caregiver, at one point or another you will have to learn how to apply for Medicaid and understand what the Medicaid eligibility requirements are as well as the Medicaid application. 

And as I explain the whole process to you, I will be explaining it from a personal perspective.   

I have gone through the process described below and completed the Medicaid application and got it approved. 

I did this after my mother’s heart attack to get her on long term care Medicaid, as the heart attack created a situation where she could no longer take care of herself, and her medical needs were beyond the capacity of my brother and I to fill.

Video Overview of How To Apply For Medicaid

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What is Medicaid? 

Medicaid is a joint Federal and State program.  It’s main purpose is to provide a social safety net for the poor and elderly. 

How To Apply For Medicaid 

The first step in the process is obtaining the Medicaid application, which you can normally find at your local Department of Social Services or in the social workers suite at a hospital or nursing home…I got the one I used for my mother in the hospital when she had her heart attack. 

The Medicaid application form, when you take a look at it, has a list of required information that will make your jaw drop.  Simply put, the government is going to want EVERY CONCEIVABLE BIT OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION for up to five years in the past [as I write this 5 years is the current look back period for long term care Medicaid…you can see Mom’s pile on paperwork below]. 

Sidebar About The Medicaid Application Form 

I received a suggestion from a visitor to this site to put up a sample Medicaid application form.  I thought it was a great idea…other than the fact that the Medicaid requirements vary from one state to the next so the paperwork differs as well. 

The information that I go over below will give you an overview of the Medicaid application form you will have to deal with…regardless of the state you are in. 

how to apply for medicaid

 So I am going to list the information required below.  As I do, there are a few things that I would like to bring up: 

  • I will be using examples from my own experience to give you insights about the application process.
  • The information required in your area may be slightly different, but you can sure that your final list will be similar to the one I created below.
  • I cannot stress enough that you should start to get this information ready BEFORE IT IS NEEDED.  Don’t make the mistake that my family made and wait until AFTER the heart attack to get this information ready. 
  •  If you are a senior, you need to get this ready to assist your children if something should happen to you…and the children should actively work with their parents to organize the information so that they have ready access to it in an emergency.

Required Information: Medicaid Eligibility


___ Social Security Card [I had my mother’s Social Security award letter, which was acceptable]. 

___ Marriage certificate, separation papers, divorce decree or spouse’s death certificate.

___ If not born in the U.S., certificate of naturalization, resident alien card, passport, visa or alien registration card.

___ Birth certificate [this can be ordered online. I did a Google search for “how to get a copy of my birth certificate in NY” and got a link to the New York City office that handled it.]

Living Circumstances and Expenses

___ If you own your house, you need to submit a copy of the deed, mortgage statement, property tax bill, homeowners insurance and two utility bills.

___ If you rent, statement from landlord indicating length of stay, current rent and a copy of the lease with a recent utility bill and the last three cancelled checks for the rent. [In my instance, my mother was living with my brother. Therefore my brother provided a letter stating that she was living with him. Also, because it is a 5-year look back we had to go to her previous landlord and get a copy of that lease to establish her residency for 5 years].

Other Expenses

___ Documentation of any loans due.

___ Documentation of child support or alimony payments [being received or being paid out].

___ Any paid or unpaid medical bills for the last three months [for Medicaid to pick you up you must have unpaid medical bills, but if you run into a situation like we did…my mother’s heart

attack…that won’t be a problem. There will be plenty of medical bills].

___ Health insurance cards [for us this was Mom’s Medicare card and then her Blue Cross Senior card, which was the Medicare Advantage Plan she joined, leaving government Medicare].

___ Documentation of health insurance premiums.

___ Military discharge papers, which is the DD214 if you were in the military.


Despite the fact that my mother was broke this was an ABSOLUTE nightmare for us because the first thing Medicaid asks for is 5 years of bank records.

Unfortunately for us, in those 5 years my mother switched bank accounts, while staying at the same bank. We still don’t know why she did it and she can’t remember, but it took me three trips to the bank and MONTHS to get it straightened out.

The worst part is that when you are applying for Medicaid you will be asked to clarify every deposit into your bank account for that 5 year period? The social worker assisting me with the application would say…”Your mother make a $237 deposit on March 9, 2008. Do you know what it was for?”

How the hell was I supposed to know that?!

Fortunately if you get the deposit statement from the bank and provide them to Medicaid this is acceptable and requires no further clarification. And I have to say, for all of the stuff in the news about people hating the banks and protesting in front of them, Chase treated me like gold through all of this. In addition to tremendous support, they waive the normal $6 per month fee for bank statements when it is a Medicaid request…something to keep in mind…so all of this paperwork you can get free of charge.

Ok, now for the rest of the list now that we have covered bank statements:

___ All savings and retirement information, including stocks and bonds along with current balances.

___ Any life insurance policies with the current cash value.

___ Any information regarding pending lawsuits, whether you are the petitioner or the defendant.

___ Title to all vehicles registered by the applicant


___ Pay stubs for the last 6 weeks

___ Award letter for: Social Security, Disability, Veterans Benefits or Pension Statement

___ Child support or alimony received

___ Copy of tax returns for the last 5 years

Follow Up Information Required

Now that you understand how to apply for Medicaid, I now want to give you a heads up as to the surprises that are headed your way. After I put together this entire list of information and sent in the Medicaid application through the social worker, I received a letter in the mail asking for clarification on certain information.

Now this letter can be infuriating for several reasons:

The government wants you to send in information they already received but some government bureaucrat just couldn’t read it right, and the really big problem…

They give you an incredible small amount of time to get them the information or they reject the application and you have to start over.

To give you an example, the information request was mailed to me dated Friday, April 6, 2012. I didn’t receive it until Wednesday afternoon, April 11, 2012 and was told that if they didn’t have the information requested by Monday, April 16th the application was rejected and I had to start over.

Now, I totally understand the government wanted to clarify information. They will be paying $400 a day…or more depending where you live…to the nursing home for my mother’s care and want to make sure that Mom didn’t give me a few million dollars to hold on to for her. But what truly pissed me off they were essentially giving me 2 business days to move mountains and get the information.

Fortunately, I was able to move the mountains in those two days but the best advice I could give caregivers is to…

Get ready for the disruption in your life this will cause. Be as thorough as possible when you initially send in the application.

In particular, the social worker assisting you should go through the bank statements and list every deposit that Medicaid may question. And this will be any back statement that wasn’t part of her standard paycheck.

I would recommend that you get the ball rolling with the bank and request those deposit slips from the bank before Medicaid requests them from you.

I did this and it was the only reason that I didn’t have to start the process over.

One other suggestion…when you go to the bank, only deal with one person, the branch manager if possible. The reason I say this is thanks to the government’s stupidity I had to request information three separate times from the bank. Because I dealt with only one person in this process, I didn’t have to keep explaining the situation over and over.

The branch manager and I had a running joke…she knew me as the “Medicaid boy” and immediately knew what was going on. This alone seemed to save hours…and enabled me to move the mountains that I discussed previously.

These days it seems that the application process, provided you get the government all the information, is down to about 4 months. And when you get the letter with the approval number…you will feel as though an anvil has been lifted off your chest.

Update: one thing you will have to do as part of the Medicaid process, even after getting Medicaid, is the yearly review and renewal of your Medicaid benefits.  I have been through this now three times for Mom…2012-2014…and it doesn’t involve much paperwork at all.  After all, her financial and health situation has not changed but it is still something that you will have to do yearly.  

I coordinate with the business office yearly as I receive the notice so it really isn’t a big deal.


    • Laura Welch
    • February 14, 2016

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for your warnings… OMG… we paid a lawyer 6 months ago to help us get ready for Medicaid so that I could get my husband into a nursing home. She NEVER mentioned all of this pile of paperwork that I should be gathering now. Thanks so much for the warning so that I can get started on that. Very overwhelming, but glad I have a few weeks to get it together. I’m only 2 -3 weeks away from getting him into the home, and they say I can’t hand in the application until he’s been there 30 days. Pretty scary if he gets turned down. Anyway, I thank you and praise you for putting this on a website where the uninformed can get the necessary info!! Laura

    1. Reply


      Thank you. Also, make sure to get a power of attorney and health care proxy in place.

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