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Estate Recovery

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Recovery

What is TennCare (Medicaid) Estate Recovery?

The State of Tennessee is required by federal and state law* to have a program that seeks to recover certain funds paid by the TennCare (Medicaid) program after the person is deceased.

States must pursue recovery of costs for medical assistance consisting of:

  • Nursing home or other long-term institutional services;
  • Home- and community-based services (including home health and private duty nursing);
  • Hospital and prescription drug services provided while the person was receiving nursing home or home- and community-based services; and
  • At State option, any other items covered by the Medicaid State Plan.

Whose estate is subject to TennCare (Medicaid) Estate Recovery?

The estate of any person age 55 and older for whom TennCare (Medicaid) has paid for nursing home (or other long-term institutional) services or Home and Community Based Services and the estate of any permanently institutionalized individual is subject to TennCare (Medicaid) Estate Recovery. If the estate is not being probated, you do not have to provide the probate court information, but you must obtain a release of TennCare's claim prior to disbursement of funds and/or assets.

How do I find out if the estate owes money to TennCare (Medicaid)?

The Bureau of TennCare requires that you complete a Request for Release Form (pdf, 43kb) and provide all requested documentation. If it is determined that no money is owed to the Bureau of TennCare, or that the estate of the deceased TennCare (Medicaid) enrollee is not subject to estate recovery, a release will be provided. However, if it is determined that the estate is subject to estate recovery, a TennCare (Medicaid) claim will be filed against the estate of the deceased TennCare (Medicaid) enrollee to inform the estate representative/attorney of the amount owed to TennCare (Medicaid) for nursing home facility services and/or Home and Community Based Services. The TennCare (Medicaid) claim must then be satisfied to obtain a release.

What are the exemptions from estate recovery?

If there is a surviving spouse, TennCare will not recover from the estate until the time of the surviving spouse's death if:

  1. The surviving spouse requests an exemption; and
  2. The surviving spouse provides documentation of proof of marriage.

If there is a minor child under the age of 18, TennCare will not recover from the estate until the minor child reaches the age of 18 if:

  1. The child or the child's representative requests an exemption to recovery; and
  2. The child or the child's representative provides a copy of the child's birth certificate as proof of relationship.

If there is a disabled child who became disabled prior to the age of 18, TennCare will not recover from the estate until the death of the disabled child if:

  1. The disabled child or the disabled child's representative requests an exemption; and
  2. The disabled child or the disabled child's representative provides a copy of the Social Security Disability Determination proving disability and onset prior to the age of 18; and
  3. The disabled child or the disabled child's representative provides a copy of a birth certificate proving relationship.

Where do I obtain more information?

Contact: Bureau of TennCare
Estate Recovery Unit
310 Great Circle Road
Nashville, TN 37243
Telephone: 1-866-389-8444
FAX: (615) 413-1941

"REQUEST FOR RELEASE" forms may be received upon written request by mail or fax or a copy may be obtained from your local Probate Clerk or by clicking here (pdf, 43kb).

* Estate recovery was enacted by 42 U.S.C. § 1396p, effective October 1, 1993, by T.C.A. § 71-5-116 in 1968, and by the "Old Age Assistance Act" in 1937.