Q: Currently, my father is living at home and cared for by myself and my mother. But my mother is panic stricken about the what ifs of nursing home care and the community spouse. My parents still owe $94,000 on their home. Both are retired teachers. My mother is afraid that if my father ends up in a nursing home she won’t be left with enough to keep the house and enough to live on. She also refuses to contact an elder law attorney because she’s afraid it will cost too much. Oh, I am also on SSDI myself so I think there is some recourse there too but I neither understand enough to direct her nor can I afford legal assistance.
A: The short answer is that there are a lot of protections both for spouses of nursing home residents and for disabled children of applicants for Medicaid. But it may take some moving of money and ownership around when and if your father needs a nursing home care. I understand your mother’s reluctance to spend hard-earned and hard-saved dollars on legal fees. But if the elder law attorney can save your mother even one month of paying out of pocket for your father’s care or one sleepless night (or both), that will be money well spent. I strongly urge you and your mother to consult with an elder law attorney.
Q: My father gifted some rental real estate to me in the neighborhood of $350,000. I have come across the rules on a 5-year look-back rule for Medicaid. My father has had some health problems in the past but is doing well for now. If he should need to go into a nursing home before the 5-year look-back period has ended, could I gift him the money to pay his nursing home bills until the 5-year period has ended and then after the 5 years has ended, he could apply for Medicaid coverage?
A: Yes. Once five years has passed, Medicaid will no longer consider the gift. If your father is otherwise eligible for benefits and needs coverage, he can then apply without the transfer to you being a problem.
Q: I am planning to help get professional help through the Medicaid application process for my mother. I am afraid it will cost me more to get professional help.
A: As always, the answer is it depends. If your mother is spent down, no transfers were made over the past five years, and it’s simply a question of processing the application, you should be fine using a non-professional service. But if any planning needs to be done, if your father is still alive and living in the community, or if there’s anything unusual about your mother’s finances, you need to use an elder law attorney. Even if the attorney helps your mother qualify a month sooner, that will justify her fee. And she may be able to save you much more. The fee may come from funds that would otherwise be paid to the nursing home. In any case, we strongly recommend that you consult with an elder law attorney to determine whether planning is possible and advisable.
Q: My parent is about to enter a nursing home. How can Aging Options help me?
A: Aging Options is there to hold your hand and walk you through the process of having a loved one enter a nursing home. Staff at Aging Options is very experienced with all types of nursing home issues. The laws are always changing, and we keep abreast of all the changes.
The primary benefit, in addition to having an experienced and knowledgeable care managers to answer all your questions, is that we can help you and your family do the proper planning to protect and preserve assets so that all of your loved one’s money is not spent on the nursing home. There is a better way to pay for the nursing home, and we can show you what it is. Caring for a loved one should not cost the savings of a lifetime.
Q: I’ve heard many rumors about Medicaid, such as you can not make a gift and apply for Medicaid without waiting five years, that all of a couples’ income will go to the nursing home, or that spouse of someone entering a nursing home has to spend all their assets except for their house. Are these true?
A: Most of these are myths that are simply false.
Q: How can Aging Options help save us money?
A: With the proper planning, Aging Options can help your loved one qualify for Medicaid and protect and preserve the life savings that your loved one spent his or her entire life working to create. We help save the assets, through a variety of strategies that may include gifting, rental property, purchasing annuities, life insurance, tax and estate planning, and many other options that enable qualification for Medicaid while still saving the assets.
Q: Will doing this planning effect the level of care my loved one will receive?
A: In nursing homes that accept Medicaid patients and private-pay patients, the level of care is identical regardless if your loved one pays for it out of his or her own money, or if Medicaid pays for it. The only difference is, how much it is going to cost you. By doing the proper planning you can save your money from being depleted on nursing home costs.
Q: This sounds too good to be true. Will it really work?
A: Yes. The government has issued a very complex set of laws, rules, regulations and procedures that specifically allow for this type of planning, but only if it is done correctly. These laws are constantly changing, and we keep abreast of every change in the law as soon as it happens. We have successfully qualified several hundreds of people for Medicaid benefits, while protecting their life savings and the list of clients we have helped grows every day. We know how to save you and your family money. It will work for you, if you give us the opportunity.
Q: How much of the assets can be saved?
A: Typically, for an individual without a spouse, we can save usually 50% of the assets and perhaps even more, depending on a variety of factors, including how far ahead the planning was started. For a single individual it will depend on variety of factors including number of assets, type of assets, personal situation, circle of friends and family etc.
Q: How soon should I contact you for help?
A: The earlier we can start the planning, the more money we can save. Remember, Noah built the ark before it started raining. We see all the time where our clients will put their head in the sand and think their problems will go away. If you plan now, before your loved one has to enter the nursing home, then you not only give yourself peace of mind so that you are ready for when the time comes that a nursing home is needed, but you also can maximize your savings. Above all, do not put off dealing with the issue until it is too late. Procrastination is the greatest threat to our future and security and our loved ones.