Medicaid and IRA’s

long island estate planning attorneyIf you have an Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) and you are applying for Medicaid there are certain rules and circumstances which affect your IRA. Your IRA cannot be transferred if you are married. The only way to transfer an IRA between a husband and a wife is to have them enter into a separation agreement or get divorced. If you are in an institution and Medicaid is paying for your care, your spouse is entitled to the monthly maintenance needs allowance. The monthly maintenance needs allowance is currently $2,980.50 per month. This is the total you can receive from Social Security and from the IRA or other sources of assets which are in your spouse’s name. It should be noted the funds you receive from an IRA are pre-taxed assets and federal and state income taxes may need to be paid with regard to the funds distributed.

If you have an IRA custodian account you should request your custodian withhold taxes from payments and therefore your spouse can receive the entire $2,980.50 and not have any taxes removed from these funds. The $2,980.50 stipend used for your spouse’s expenses in New York State is the highest in the United States. Unfortunately, this may not be sufficient to live on in the State of New York. A legal proceeding can be brought to obtain a larger allowance, but this is difficult to be successful in these proceedings. The fact that the standard of living in New York State is high is not a valid reason for obtaining a higher monthly stipend.


It may be necessary for Medicaid to pay expenses for you or your spouse, either for private nursing care at your residence or in a nursing home facility. You should meet with an elder care attorney early on and develop a plan to help you qualify for Medicaid should you need it to pay your expenses for nursing home planning attorney

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Horror Faced by Some Seniors

elder care attorney on long islandAre you becoming forgetful? Are you having what is commonly referred to as senior moments? Are you wondering are these the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease? Although memory problems can be a sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, that is not always the case. There are other symptoms to the onset of early Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease deals with an individual’s loss of the ability to recall things and engage in reasoning related to the recollection of ideas and facts stored in his or her memory. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. Dementia creates memory issues which interfere with many of life’s daily activities.

Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Brain

Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. It damages brain cells and over time has more and more significant effects on the individual’s ability to think, reason and remember things. Alzheimer’s disease is incurable.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the aging. It generally affects senior citizens. In its early stages, Alzheimer’s disease simply causes memory loss. In its latter stages, Alzheimer’s disease can cause death.

Difficulties Functioning

Losing things and inability to manage simple tasks are some of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be prone to mishandling their finances and/or being inattentive to their personal hygiene needs.


Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are often easily confused. They get lost easily. In some cases, it creates major personality changes and it causes the individual to become frustrated and violent.

What To Do If You Suspect You Have Alzheimer’s Disease

The easy answer to the question is to see a doctor. However, not all doctors deal with Alzheimer’s disease. You should speak to your family physician, or research which type of doctor has extensive experience in dealing with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease is incurable, there are treatments to slow the onset of the disease. These treatments may help memory functions and allow the individual afflicted with the disease to live a normal life for years to come.

elder care planning assistance for seniorsElliot Schlissel is an elder care attorney. He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He helps his clients with regard to estate issues, probating of wills, drafting of wills, and dealing with Medicaid eligibility issues. He is available for free consultations.

Medicaid in New York – Part II

Look Back Period for Institutionalized Medicaid

There is a currently a 60 month (5 year) look back period for obtaining institutional Medicaid benefits. This means that the Medicaid recipient has a five year look back period where he or she may be subject to being a self-payer.

Spousal Refusal

If the community spouse has assets greater than allowed in the year the benefits are applied for, these assets and/or income will be considered to be available to be utilized by the institutional spouse to cover healthcare expenses. New York will not deny institutional spouse benefits if the community spouse refuses to contribute. The community spouse can do this by signing a “spousal refusal” letter. When a community spouse refuses to make contributions to the other spouse’s care, the Medicaid recipient must execute an assignment of support rights regarding the community spouse to the benefit of the Department of Social Services.

Medicaid Can Sue in Spousal Refusal Situations

In spousal refusal situations, Medicaid has a right to bring a legal proceeding on behalf of the Medicaid recipient against the community spouse. They can take this action to force the community spouse to support the Medicaid recipient and/or to obtain reimbursement for the expenses they have paid on behalf of the institutionalized spouse. The best way to deal with Medicaid issues and spousal refusal issues is to retain an experienced elder law attorney to represent you on these proceedings.

estate planningElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He assists his clients with regard to Medicaid planning issues.

Medicaid In New York – Part I

Medicaid was established in 1965 by an act of Congress. Medicaid is designed to deal with healthcare issues for individuals and families who cannot afford healthcare. Individuals applying for medicaid must meet minimum coverage requirements. These requirements are the individual must be under 21 years of age or over 65 years of age or be eligible for public assistance or recipient of Social Security Disability, blind and/or disabled. There are two types of medicaid, home-care and long term care in nursing homes.

Medicaid Administrated in New York State on the County Level

In the State of New York, Medicaid programs are administrated by each individual county. In the City of New York, Medicaid is administrated by the Human Resources Administration. In counties outside the State of New York, Medicaid is usually administrated by the Department of Social Services.

Eligibility for Medicaid

The resource amount for Medicaid is currently $14,250. Married couples can have combined exempt resources of $20,850. When one spouse goes into a nursing home the remaining spouse (referred to as the community spouse) can keep $113,640 in assets.

There are certain resources that are exempt from Medicaid. Individuals can set up an irrevocable funeral trust for their final expenses and these funds are exempt from Medicaid. For community Medicaid (the individual living at their residence) the equity in a home may not exceed $786,000. Medicaid can still recover against the equity in the home after the individual receiving the Medicaid benefits dies. Medicaid accomplishes collecting against the value of a home by placing a lien on the home for the costs they incur in maintaining the Medicaid recipient. An exception to Medicaid placing a lien on a home, is if the home is the principal residence of the Medicaid recipient’s spouse and/or minor children. The spouse needs to have lived in the home for a minimum of one year prior to the individual’s admission to a medical facility.

Individual Retirement Accounts and Medicaid

Individual retirement accounts or other types of retirement accounts are exempt if the individuals are receiving regular, periodic payments from these accounts. However, the funds received from these retirement benefits are considered income for Medicaid purposes.

helping prepare medicaid As of 2013, the community based Medicaid recipient is allowed income of $2,841 per month. Income above this amount must be utilized for the Medicaid recipient’s healthcare unless he or she has a spouse with income under $2,841 per month. In this situation, the Medicaid recipient’s income can be utilized by the spouse to bring his or her income up $2,841.