DHA Case No. MGE 209934 (Wis. Div. of Hearings and Appeals November 13, 2023) (DHS) ↓ Download PDF

Collectibles acquired or held because of their value as an investment are countable assets. In this case, the petitioner owned sports memorabilia worth about $35,000 but argued the collection was (1) unavailable due to the time it would take to sell, and (2) an exempt recreational item. ALJ John Tedesco was unconvinced, concluding: “This argument is, or at least borders on, frivolous.”

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Preliminary Recitals

Pursuant to a petition filed on August 22, 2023, under Wis. Stat. § 49.45(5), and Wis. Admin. Code § HA 3.03(1), to review a decision by the Marathon County Department of Social Services regarding Medical Assistance (MA), a hearing was held on September 20, 2023, by telephone.

The issue for determination is whether the agency correctly counted sports collectibles and memorabilia as an available asset for long-term care Medicaid purposes.

There appeared at that time the following persons:



Department of Health Services
1 West Wilson Street, Room 651
Madison, WI 53703
By: K. Smith
Marathon County Department of Social Services
400 E. Thomas Street
Wausau, WI 54403

John P. Tedesco
Division of Hearings and Appeals

Findings of Fact

  1. Petitioner (CARES # —) is a resident of Lincoln County.
  2. On August 9, 2023, the agency issued a notice to petitioner informing him that he was not eligible for long-term care Medicaid due to his assets exceeding the asset limit.
  3. Asset value was determined by information provided by petitioner including receipts from purchase.
  4. The items in question include a Joe Montana jersey, autographed items, sports cards, and what petitioner’s representative described as “a lot of small items”).
  5. Petitioner owns various items of sports collectibles and memorabilia. Among the items are
  6. The agency denied the application on the basis of petitioner being over assets due to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of sports collectibles being available assets.
  7. Petitioner requested a fair hearing.


To be certified for Institutional MA, a person cannot have nonexempt assets in excess of $2,000. Wis. Stat. §49.47(4)(b)3, Medicaid Eligibility Handbook (MEH), § 39.4. If available assets are above that limit, the person is not eligible for MA. Assets must be included if they are available. MEH § 16.1. Available assets generally include: Joint accounts. (16.4.1 Joint Accounts); … Savings account; Checking account; Cash available…. MEH § 16.1. But, available assets can also be liquid assets including personal property. MEH § Among the categories of personal property that is considered an available asset is “collectibles acquired or held because of their value or as an investment.”

First, petitioner does not dispute the determination of fair market value in this case. Petitioner concedes that the value exceeds the asset limit and approaches or exceeds $35,000. This value was established for the county by consideration of the receipts for purchase by the family.

In this case, petitioner’s son argued that the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of sports memorabilia is not an asset for Medicaid purposes. He explained that the items are not truly available as it would take some time to sell the items for fair market value. But, the availability definition in MEH § 16.2.1 does not contemplate the sale price of the asset upon its liquidation:

An asset is available when:

  1. It can be sold, transferred, or disposed of by the owner or the owner’s representative, and
  2. The owner has a legal right to the money obtained from sale of the asset, and
  3. The owner has the legal ability to make the money available for support and maintenance, and
  4. The asset can be made available in less than 30 days.

Consider an asset as unavailable if either:

  1. The member lacks the ability to provide legal access to the assets, and
  2. No one else can access the assets, and
  3. A process has been started to get legal access to the assets.

MEH § 16.2.1. Petitioner could likely liquidate the items at a discount fairly quickly for an amount well in excess of the $2,000 asset limit. This could assist with covering the cost of petitioner’s care until petitioner is eligible. It is petitioner’s choice if he prefers not to do that. Instead, petitioner prefers to keep the sports collectibles while Wisconsin taxpayers cover his care. This does not make sense.

Furthermore, he argued, the items are more appropriately considered recreational items that should be excluded from assets under the provision excluding “[e]ducational or recreational items such as books or musical instruments. See MEH § He reasoned that since his father takes joy from the presence of the items and takes time looking through them that they really are “recreational.”

This is not a close case. I find the petitioner’s argument without any merit whatsoever. Wisconsin Medicaid is a program providing health care for those Wisconsin residents in poverty. Petitioner argues for his right to keep $30,000 in baseball cards and autographed football jerseys. Not to be overlooked is the fact that upon petitioner’s passing those items will likely be a windfall for whomever inherits them. This argument is, or at least borders on, frivolous. Petitioner’s position fails.

Conclusions of Law

  1. The petitioner is not eligible for long-term care Medicaid because his assets exceed $2,000.
  2. The county was correct to count various sports memorabilia, souvenirs, and collectibles as available assets.



That this appeal is dismissed.

[Request for a rehearing and appeal to court instructions omitted.]

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