Long-term senior care is a necessity at some point for 70% of Americans over the age of 65, according to the Association for Long Term Care Planning. However, long-term senior care is very expensive! Medicaid is the number one way that elderly people are able to afford quality care. Medicaid is a very helpful resource, but understanding how to qualify and take full advantage of the benefits available to you can be complicated and confusing. According to Paying for Senior Care, there are hundreds of different sets of eligibility rules for Medicaid services! But we’re here to simplify things! As an elder law firm dedicated to helping seniors understand their rights and get the best possible care available, here are four tips on how to qualify for Medicaid.
Medicaid requires applicants to have no more than $2,000 in countable assets in order to qualify. At first glance, most seniors (or their loved ones) might think that they automatically do not qualify, but that’s where we come in ! According to DailyCaring, there’s a strategy that many people use called “Medicaid Spend Down:” which is the spending or giving away of assets in Medicaid approved ways in order to meet Medicaid’s financial requirements. “Spending Down” can be a very helpful strategy. Unfortunately, many people attempt to qualify by spending or giving away assets before they truly understand the strategy and Medicaid’s requirements. Improper strategies can result in the imposition of penalties which can possibly prevent the applicant from receiving Medicaid benefits for a long time into the future. The strategies are complicated and require expert advice, such as one would receive from The Estate Trust & Elder Law Firm. Keep reading for tips on how to maximize the strategy for you and your loved ones!
#1: Don’t Start Spending orTransferring Assets Too Soon!
This is the primary issue Medicaid applicants run into. Take time to talk to your elder law attorney and fully understand Medicaid’s requirements and the assets you have before acting too quickly to your detriment.
#2: Understand What is Exempt from Medicaid’s Requirements
Every state has different laws about Medicaid assets and you should therefore not assume that something that worked for your friend in another state is going to work in Florida., As a general rule in Florida, the following are considered exempt:.
- Primary residence/homestead (at least to the extent of 500,000 of equity)
- Rental property ( but it must be structured appropriately for the net income to be at considered as income for Medicaid purposes rather than for the property to be counted as an asset)
- Business property (also an income conversion strategy)
- One vehicle (possibly an additional vehicle over seven years of age) (not high-value collector cars)
- Household goods and personal items
- Term and no cash value life insurance policies
- Burial plots and irrevocable funeral contracts.
- Individual Retirement Accounts and pensions (as long as the potential Medicaid recipient is receiving required minimum distributions) (again, and income conversion strategy
- Cash (up to $2,000 only)
Talk to your elder law attorney about which of your assets you can exclude from Medicaid’s financial minimum as well as any and all strategies which will lead your loved one to qualification for long-term care services and supports.
#3: Don’t Add Children or Other Loved Ones as Joint Owners of Assets or Transfer Assets to Them
This is a common mistake for Medicaid applicants and can negatively impact you in many ways. Consult an attorney first. Not only might adding joint owners increase your liability, but it can also have substantial tax consequences, and can be seen as an ineligible transfer and lead to a penalty waiting period.
#4: Understand the Different Requirements for Married Couples vs. Individuals
Your eligibility requirements change drastically depending on your marital status. Talk to your attorney about which assets you are allowed to keep and how you should best “spend down” depending on whether you are married or not. Planning for qualification of a married person includes many strategies that are not available for a single person. Moreover, it is extremely important to have appropriate testamentary documents as well as advanced directives, especially if one of the spouses is showing signs of decreasing health or capacity.
Have questions about your Medicaid eligibility in the Fort Pierce area? We’re here to make the entire process as simple and stress-free as possible! Contact The Estate, Trust, and Elder Law Firm by calling us at 772-828-2588 or contacting us online today! We serve treasure coast seniors and those who love them.
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Fort Pierce, FL 34981
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