Take it from Leominster, Fitchburg, and Lunenburg’s Leading Nursing Home Planning Attorney.
Change is life’s only constant, and we know from personal experience, and our clients’ numerous experiences, that change can happen suddenly, without warning. Are you or a loved one suddenly in need of long term care? Is your spouse suddenly in need of such care, but you have heard nightmare stories about being impoverished due to its cost? Finding and affording quality care on short notice can be stressful and draining, but the important thing to remember is to not panic! We can help you determine the best options for care and how to pay for it, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the choices and options available!
Long-term Care: The True Cost
Long-term care is expensive, and these costs only continue to increase as we age. Inflation is high enough; yet the cost of care often outpaces it! The average life span of adults also is increasing, which translates into more years of care at increasingly higher rates. Without a plan in place, these costs could be financially devastating. In fact, without proper planning, your life savings could be quickly depleted within months of needing long-term care. This is where we can help.
Is Medicaid the Answer?
Although Medicaid requirements vary from state to state, and program to program, they all share one common element: complexity. Each state specifies a maximum allowed income for individuals and couples in order to qualify for Medicaid. Also, the applicant’s total assets cannot exceed a specified amount, called the Individual Resource Allowance, which is consistently very low, often as low as $2,000. Although certain possessions, like your home and automobile, are “exempted” for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility, this figure is still alarming.
If the applicant is married, the process becomes more complicated. The good news is that the spouse at home gets what is called a Community Spouse Resource Allowance. The bad news is that figuring out the correct Allowance is very complex. Well meaning nursing homes and other long term care providers tell a spouse at home that they may only keep about $130,000 in assets for this Allowance, but especially in Massachusetts, this is not always true.
What can you do if the value of your “non-exempt” assets exceeds the Community Spouse Resource Allowance? If you give your extra assets away, which seems like an obvious choice, you will encounter greater problems. Violating this “Transfer Penalty Rule” could disqualify you from receiving Medicaid for months or years, depending on how much you gave away, so please, DO NOT do this without seeking qualified assistance first.
If your need for nursing home care is immediate, however, you cannot afford to lose more time.
Is Medicaid an Option for me?
This is only a brief and oversimplified review of a few Medicaid rules, and they vary depending on the program being sought. Navigating these rules on your own can be a nightmare at best and subject you to horrific penalties at worst. Fortunately, though, our experienced professionals can guide you through the Medicaid maze. We can advise you throughout the application process, ensuring that you retain the maximum income and total assets allowed by law. And especially in Massachusetts, this may be MORE than you think, and almost definitely more than a well meaning long term care provider, friend or neighbor, or on-line search, might suggest.
The Bottom Line.
Seek appropriate counsel before you attempt to tackle the Medicaid maze. We can give you peace of mind during a difficult and uncertain time. These are hard issues. You cannot afford to go at them alone.