Everyone’s heard the statement – “Ya gotta be broke to qualify for Medicaid!” It’s a common myth that the most highly-skilled elder lawyers bust almost daily. You DO NOT have to be broke to qualify for Medicaid, and Medicaid is a terrific alternative for anyone concerned about the extremely high cost of long term care. But…
Qualifying for Medicaid is not easy. Its laws, administrative regulations and related processes are very dense, intimidating and frustrating. And everyone’s situation is, inherently, different. For that reason, those interested in Medicaid should consult with an attorney who is deeply-steeped in the unique knowledge of how Medicaid works and how to protect one’s hard-earned assets from the high cost of a nursing home.
Did you know these things about Medicaid?
- There are fifty different types of Medicaid. Yes – fifty! Although it’s a federal program, each state runs its own, and they’re all a little different. Qualifying in one state, doesn’t qualify you everywhere.
- Texas is very generous to the spouse of someone who needs long term care. The “well” spouse can have a substantial amount of assets and still qualify their loved one for assistance…but only if they know how or seek the advice of someone who does.
- Even in those “emergency” cases when the applicant needs long term care immediately, there are strategies that can preserve up to 75% of all his assets. Don’t panic! Get advice from someone who deals in this area daily. It’s not just some subset of estate planning.
Then, there’s Medicaid’s “pesky ole” lookback period. Nearly everyone has heard of it, but very few really understand it. In short, Medicaid looks at the five years immediately preceding one’s application, and they assume that transfers made (for less than fair market value) or gifts given outright, in that five-year timeframe, were done purely to qualify. So, Medicaid applies a formula to the value of such things and calculates a penalty period during which, even though you’re otherwise qualified, you don’t get your benefit check. But there’s good news! If you know how, much of that penalty can be avoided.
Editorial Note: This article was written by J. Clarke Wilcox with Whatley Wilcox PLLC. He may be reached at 888-593-5337 or www.whatleywilcox.com. (See ad page 33)