How to Apply for Medicaid and the Paperwork You'll Need

You must apply for Medicaid and be approved by your state Medicaid program in order to receive benefits. In this review, we outline the paperwork you need to apply for Medicaid, as well as other Medicaid application requirements you need to know.

Just because you meet all of the eligibility requirements for Medicaid doesn’t mean you will automatically start receiving benefits. You must still take action to manually apply for and enroll in the program, and there is some paperwork needed to do so.

In this Medicaid application guide, we outline the paperwork needed to apply for Medicaid, where you can get the required Medicaid application forms and how you can get started signing up for Medicaid.

How do I apply for Medicare or Medicaid?

Medicaid and Medicare both operate under the same governing body, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Because the two programs are related, the application process is similar. 

There are two ways to apply for Medicaid:

  1. You may fill out an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

  2. You may contact your state Medicaid agency. While Medicaid is governed at the federal level by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), each state handles its own eligibility rules, applications, enrollment and coverage. 

While Medicare and Medicaid are different programs, it’s possible to be enrolled in both programs at the same time. If you do not qualify for automatic Medicare enrollment, you may be able to apply if you’re eligible by visiting your local Social Security office or filling out an online application.

How do I fill out my Medicaid application?

Each state Medicaid application may look slightly different, but some of the paperwork and information you may need to supply can include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful residence
  • Proof of income and assets
  • Proof of address 
  • Medicare card or other insurance cards
  • Medical records that document your disability (if applicable) 

Some states may require you to complete a Medicaid application in person, while other states may allow you to apply by mail, online or even over the phone. Contact your state Medicaid office and ask how to obtain and submit a Medicaid application. 

Is it hard to qualify for Medicaid?

Medicaid qualification rules vary by state, and some states have more strict requirements than others. Generally speaking, you must be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen and a resident of the state in which you are applying for benefits. You must also meet certain financial requirements that will vary by state. 

In addition, you’ll likely have to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Disabled
  • Pregnant
  • Minor under the age of 21
  • Parent or custodian of a child under 18
  • Low-income

Most states make Medicaid available to low-income adults regardless of age. Others require you to be at least 65 years old to qualify based on income alone. 

The financial limits are based on income and assets or resources and will differ by state. Income is measured in relation to the federal poverty level. You can find the percentage of the federal poverty level you are allowed to make and still qualify for Medicaid in each state.

Your assets will also need to be under a certain value, which again will vary by state and program. Things like your home, primary vehicle and other things do not count against you as assets.    

How long does it take to get approved for Medicaid?

Most states will make a determination about a Medicaid application in 45 to 90 days. Individuals applying because of a disability may be on the longer end of that estimate as the disability must be thoroughly reviewed and approved. 

Once you are approved for Medicaid coverage, benefits are available retroactive to the date of application or the first day of the month that you applied for up to three months.  

Find Medicare-Medicaid plans that offer more benefits

If you qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, you may be eligible for a special type of Medicare Advantage plan called a Dual-eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP). These Medicare-Medicaid plans can cover everything that Medicare covers, and some plans may cover benefits not found in Original Medicare. 

To learn more about D-SNP plans and to find out if there are any plans available where you live, you can compare plans online for free. You can also call to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Find Medicare-Medicaid plans where you live.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent



About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

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