Medicaid (Nursing Home) Planning

“Aging is inevitable, nursing homes do not have to be!
Find the answers you need today, and plan for tomorrow.”

Services-EngineerMany people are not aware that Medicare and Medicare Supplemental Insurance do not cover the cost of long term care in a nursing home. For the average person who has worked hard all their life, nursing home costs and costs of long term care can wipe out an entire life savings in a matter of months.

According to statistics, of people reaching the age of 65, over 40% will spend time in a nursing home. The number of people over age 65 has tripled since the turn of the century – and people in their 80’s are among the fastest growing segment of the population.

Long term care insurance is available for those who are able to pass strict underwriting requirements. However, many elderly people cannot qualify for long term insurance because of health or financial requirements. As the search continues for long term care solutions, the predicament faced by the individual afflicted with chronic debilitating illness, and their families, continues to grow.

For those who qualify, the cost of long term care will be paid by the Medicaid program. Medicaid (not to be confused with Medicare) is a program originally enacted in 1965. Since then, it has undergone many changes over the years. Most senior citizens and their families have heard of the Medicaid Program and have some information as to the rules of eligibility and transfers of assets. As with most subjects, a little information can be a dangerous thing!

The rules of eligibility for Medicaid are very complex and intricate. Those with any assets whatsoever should never make a Medicaid application without consulting an Elder Law specialist first. Filing an application without full and correct knowledge concerning the retention and transfer of assets, income caps, and eligibility can be catastrophic and irrevocable.

Many well-intentioned individuals are willing to give advice regarding qualifying for Medicaid based upon what they have heard, or what happened to their neighbor. Be wary of the advice of anyone other than an experienced, qualified Elder Law specialist. Too often, well intentioned but erroneous advice results in an ineligibility period or even disqualification from the Medicaid program.

Even professionals sometimes offer advice which is inaccurate or which contains only partial information. Even if the information is correct, it often does not take full advantage of the many strategies available to the experienced Elder Law attorney. This could result in unnecessary impoverishment and “spending down” of assets.

The stakes are high – and a thorough knowledge of the law, rules, and the manner in which different estate planning tools affect the Medicaid process is essential. Even if your loved one is currently in a nursing home, it may be possible to benefit from proper planning for Medicaid and the preservation of assets. As with all planning, however, the earlier it is undertaken, the greater the results.

As Board Certified Elder Law attorneys with many years of experience, Joan Nelson Hook and David Hook are pleased to be able to offer valuable assistance to those in need of expert counsel in this area of the law. Our office works with the individual and their families to preserve assets and peace of mind when long term care is an issue. There are many legal avenues to explore -and many traps for the unwary. An experienced elder law attorney should be your guide through the morass of qualifying for Medicaid assistance and the prevention of financial ruin.