Medicaid Planning – Long Term Care Issues

Gavel & A Law Book

Growing old has its benefits. You get to see your grown children, friends and family members for a long period of time. You tend to grow wiser and more sophisticated with regard to lifestyle matters and the future of your family. However, a significant portion of seniors at some point in their lives require long term care. They will either require the assistance of home healthcare aides in their home or assistance in a nursing home or other type of senior facility.

Issues concerning long term care are complicated. They also involve significant expenses. To stay in a nursing home in the State of New York cost approximately $200,000.00 per year. You should not ignore issues involving long term care.

Medicaid Eligibility

Medicaid is the only long term care program which is publicly funded. However there are very strict eligibility limits. In order to qualify for Medicaid an individual may need to spend down a portion of his or her assets to fall within the Medicaid eligibility limits. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to help you qualify for Medicaid long term care. These involve gifting programs, trusts, spousal refusal and a variety of other Medicaid planning techniques.

Becoming eligible for Medicaid is a complex process. This process also changes on a year to year basis. In addition to only having a certain amount of assets at the time you apply for Medicaid, Medicaid also has a “look back” period. During this 5 year look back period certain transfers of assets will be subject to a penalty under the Medicaid Law. It may be in your interest to consult with an elder law attorney to see if there is a manner in which you can avoid spending your assets and still qualifying for Medicaid.

Too Much Assets

If you have more assets than is allowed by Medicaid and you enter a nursing home you will be on a private pay basis. You will have to pay for the nursing home expenses until you meet the Medicaid eligibility level for Medicaid coverage. Medicaid does not include your home in its calculations. However, Medicaid can bill your estate for your medical care after you die.

Medicaid Eligibility

You don’t have to spend all of your assets to meet the “spend down” requirements of Medicaid. The appropriate estate planning techniques used by elder care attorneys can help you preserve your assets so they can be inherited by future generations as well as meet the Medicaid eligibility requirements.

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys representing seniors throughout the Metropolitan New York area.