Legal Services in Furtherance of Medicaid Planning and Applications
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a federal program administered by each state which pays for medical care after assets are depleted. Medicaid is often called upon to pay for nursing home care when the family runs out of money. However, Medicaid generally does not pay long-term care costs for those who do not need medical assistance.
How to Qualify for Medicaid
In order to qualify for Medicaid benefits, the applicant must have less than $2,000.00 in assets, and must meet both medical and income requirements. A stay-at-home spouse has certain rights to assets and income as well. For example, the marital home may be exempt as long as a spouse is residing there, subject to possible Medicaid liens upon its sale. Planning tools to avoid this may be available.
Medicaid Five Year Look-Back
To apply for Medicaid, an application must be completed, and certain documentation must be provided. Five years of bank and financial statements must be supplied. This is for the so-called “Five-Year Look-Back,” where Medicaid reviews your statements to be sure that you did not give assets away and deliberately impoverish yourself to qualify for Medicaid.
If gifts were made during the Five-Year Look-Back, Medicaid will assess a penalty for a certain period of time, meaning it will not pay for the nursing home care when it would otherwise be payable. This will require the family to pay for the care, or even to remove the elderly person from the nursing home.
Medicaid Spend Down Period
As the applicant is permanently placed into a facility, Medicaid will determine the amount of money which must be spent in order to qualify for benefits. This is called the “Spend-Down.” Once this amount is spent, the applicant should qualify for benefits. The amount that must be spent and the acceptable type of expenses varies depending upon whether the applicant is married. If there is a stay-at-home spouse, the spend down can include things such as home improvements and repairs, new appliances, or a car. The couple can purchase a pre-paid burial plan to ensure there is money available for this important expense.
Planning for Medicaid
Medicaid planning tools are available, but many of these can only be instituted if time allows. Meeting with an experienced New Jersey Elder Law Attorney early, before the need to apply for Medicaid actually arrives, is essential.
We Help People Solve Medicaid Problems
An experienced New Jersey Elder Law attorney advises regarding Medicaid planning, prepares applications, and, if necessary, files an appeal.
As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
It is important that you see an experienced New Jersey Elder Law Attorney quickly, if you believe that a Medicaid application is in your future. Get your questions answered. Understand your rights. Avoid the stress that a last-minute application will bring to you and your family. Make a plan. Shanahan & Voigt has the experience and knowledge to represent your interests and put your family first.
Attorney Robert J. Shanahan Jr. is experienced in advising on all aspects of the Medicaid process, including planning, applications, and appeals. Bob is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is active in the New Jersey Chapter. Get him in your corner.