In the 2000, there were close to 10 million people in need of some form of long-term care in the United States. Slightly less than 40 percent were under the age of 65. Around 6 million were over the age of 65. Not only that, but 70% of people turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. The compliance issues for Medicaid qualification are extensive and your estate planning lawyer can help you work through all of the dynamics to ensure financial protection without compromising your level of care.
The Department of Health and Human Services defines long term care as “a range of services and supports to meet personal care needs.” Most long-term care is not medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, which is often referred to as “Activities of Daily Living” or ADLs. They might include bathing, dressing, moving around a home, caring for incontinence, eating or walking outdoors.
There are also other common long-term care services that help with daily tasks. They are referred to as “Instrumental Activities of Daily Living” or IADLs. They might include daily housework, paying bills and managing money, shopping, taking medication, caring for pets and using the telephone or computer.
Close to 80 percent of these services are done by unpaid caregivers, usually a family member. On average, caregivers spend 20 hours a week giving care and close to 60 percent, according to Mediciad, have intensive caregiving responsibilities that may include assisting with a personal care activity, such as bathing or feeding.
This is important because it means most people can remain at home, provided they have support. While most is unpaid, there are resources available for those who do earn their livings caring for those who need it. Contrary to popular belief, qualifying for Medicaid doesn’t require you to unload all of your assets. There are very specific requirements, but none of them require you to enter into a state of poverty.
You can have up to $2,130 in assets (for 2013) that won’t be counted against you and your spouse’s assets are factored in, unless it appears there have been efforts of hiding assets. Also, if your income does go over the annual allowance, there are qualified income trusts or “Miller trusts” that can protect you in most instances.
Finally, remember that you’re likely surrounded by many people who love you and want to protect you. The truth is, though, Medicaid and Medicare laws change often and unless they’re experts in the way these programs ebb and flow, you may not be getting the most current advice. Their well intentions are always commendable, but they simply may not know all of the intricacies. Only your elder law professional can provide you with the most current legal advice. Don’t underestimate the role of an estate planning attorney: his sole purpose is to protect his clients with the most relevant changes in the law. Ask questions – in fact, many clients prepare a list before meeting with their lawyers. These are the clients who are best served because they do speak up. It makes the efforts of your attorneys far more substantial for your needs.