Like many seniors, you may find yourself faced with the need to qualify for Medicaid for the first time in your life. Having never before needed to rely on Medicaid, you may know very little about the program. To get you started, a Nashua Medicaid planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law explains five things you need to know before applying for Medicaid.
- Long-Term Care Costs Prompt the Need to Qualify for Medicaid. You are not alone! As of 2019, the average cost of a year in long-term care (LTC) nationwide was over $100,000. Although most seniors rely on Medicare to cover health care expenses, Medicare explicitly excludes LTC expenses as do most private health insurance policies. For over half of all seniors currently in LTC it leaves them turning to Medicaid for help covering the high cost of long-term care.
- Medicaid Often Covers Alternatives to LTC. For seniors who cannot safely remain in their own home, yet do not need the level of care provided by a nursing home, Medicaid may also cover alternatives such as assisted living, community based care, and even Home-Based Supportive Care (HBSC).
- Asset Transfers Prior to Applying Can Trigger a Waiting Period. If you apply for Medicaid, your finances will be subject to scrutiny for the 60 month period prior to the date of your application. Any asset transfers completed during that time period for less than fair market value could trigger a penalty in the form of a waiting period. The length of the waiting period is calculated by dividing the value of your excess assets by the average monthly cost of LTC in your area.
- Your Spouse Will Not Be Left Destitute. A common myth holds that a spouse who remains in the community will be left with nothing when the other spouse turns to Medicaid to help pay for long-term care. It is just that – a myth. When one spouse needs long-term care, instead of combining the couples’ assets for the purpose of Medicaid eligibility, the Medicaid program allows for a “division of assets.” The spousal share (which fluctuates by state and changes yearly) is protected from the Medicaid spend-down requirement, leaving them available for use by the community spouse. In addition, the “Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance,” or “MMMNA” allows the community spouse to keep part of the institutionalized spouse’s income in some cases if the community spouse’s monthly income is low.
- Some Assets Are Exempt When Determining Eligibility for Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid depends, in part, on an applicant’s income and “countable resources.” If either are over the program limit, your application will be denied. The countable resources (asset) limit is very low — $2,000 for an individual in most states. Fortunately, some assets are exempt, meaning they are not taken into consideration when determining your eligibility.
The need to qualify for Medicaid as a senior can put your retirement nest egg at risk if you failed to plan ahead. To prevent that scenario from occurring, talk to an experienced attorney about incorporating Medicaid planning into your estate plan as early on as possible.
Contact Nashua Medicaid Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Nashua Medicaid planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling our New Hampshire office at (603) 894-4141 or our Massachusetts office (978) 969-0331 to learn more or visit our website at http://dadlawoffices.com .
In New Hampshire, exempt assets include personal belongings, such as clothing, household furnishings, an automobile, a burial plot, and burial funds (up to $1,500). One’s primary home is also exempt, given the Medicaid applicant resides there or “intends” to in the future, and his / her equity interest in the home is under $595,000 (in 2020).
Employment wages, alimony payments, Veteran’s benefits, pension payments, Social Security Disability Income, Social Security Income, Supplemental Security Income, IRA withdrawals, and stock dividends.
Seniors who wish to apply for help covering long-term care costs can do so online at NHEasy at Gateway Services.