Confusing Medicaid With Other Government Programs
As we all go through our own Elder Care journey we know our needs change as we get older. Some of us are able to remain at home for the rest of our lives while others move from home to an independent living community to an assisted living community to perhaps a nursing care community before we pass away.
It's often confusing to people what programs are available at the various points during their Elder Care journey and how the government programs differ.
For instance, I recently met with a client who had been living at home until about three years ago. At that time, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and anticipating the need for greater care down the road, he made gifts to his children totaling about $200,000. This left him with about $40,000 in assets and he moved into a HUD Housing Community and he qualified for assistance and lived there for about a year.
From there it got to the point where he needed more care so he moved to an assisted living community and a fellow resident mentioned that he might be eligible for a VA benefit. He checked into it and discovered that he was eligible. He remained there happily for about 18 months and then it got to the point where he realized he was going to need more care. He then transferred to the nursing home in that same community and someone told him that he really need to see an Elder Law attorney to be sure he was going to be able to pay for the cost of care.
That's when he came to see me and I explained the different rules that there are for various government programs. I explained that he did not run into any issue from an asset transfer standpoint in his HUD Housing or in the assisted living for the VA benefit, but now since he was moving into nursing care we had the five year Medicaid look back to contend with.
Since he had made those asset transfers about three years ago, he did not have enough assets left in his name to get past the five year Medicaid look back.
Fortunately, we were able to structure a program for him that will allow him and his family to still protect a portion of the assets while he privately pays for the cost of his care until all the relevant penalty periods have run out.
It's not uncommon for us to sit down with families struggling with the rules which can be quite different depending upon the level of care needed now and in the future. As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and getting good advice as you go along your Elder Care journey can prevent a whole lot of heartbreak down the road.