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  • Writer's pictureAlan D. Feller, Esq.

Is it too late to apply for Medicaid for Long Term Care?

I have actually said this sentence while driving at least 20 times in my life: “Why is there traffic today?” My expectation of no traffic was not based on fact. I had not checked to see if it was a gridlock alert day. I did not examine the latest accident report or construction map. In other words, I had no objective information to support my statement. Besides annoying everyone riding in the car, I realize that drawing conclusions without facts is not the best way to navigate life.

Medicaid is similar to traffic in that understanding facts will avoid bad outcomes. Saying that it is too late to apply for Medicaid without knowing how Medicaid works is not reasonable. When a serious illness strikes and a long term care plan must be implemented, Medicaid eligibility is a sought after goal. Paying for care out-of-pocket would drastically reduce a family’ s financial assets. Medicaid exists so that families can sustain basic resources that belong to loved ones while also managing a long term illness.

It is not too late to apply for Medicaid if long term care is necessary for a loved one. An experienced elder law attorney has planning methods that deal with the issues involved with gaining Medicaid eligibility even when care is needed immediately.

Planning early is always the better idea. People rarely plan early. Luckily, New York State, in its wisdom, has a Medicaid system that anticipates health emergencies and the burdens placed on families. Community or home care Medicaid does not penalize transfers made prior to applying. Excess income can be preserved through the use of a Supplemental Needs Pooled Trust. If a parent falls, endures a short hospital stay and then is sent to Rehabilitation for physical and occupational therapy the remaining family members must arrange for home health aides. Even at the point of discharge it is not too late to apply for Medicaid. Knowing the process is one way to manage the anxiety of caring for a loved one. Asset protection, gathering the necessary documentation, filing the application, communicating with the Department of Social Services, going over the Supplemental Needs Pooled Trust, learning about Managed Care agencies and assessments, and working to smooth the transition from short-term private pay to Medicaid covered services are all major milestones in the Medicaid process.

For Nursing Home Medicaid Applications there is a five year lookback on financial transactions and penalties for non-exempt transfer of assets. Even in cases where there were gifts or transfers made within the five years or the asset totals are over the Medicaid threshold – it is not too late to apply. For a family struggling with the decision to place a loved one in a Nursing Home and grapple with the financial obligations that go along with that decision, Medicaid is an option. The legal tools required for this form of emergency Medicaid Planning are more complex, but the potential savings are significant. Nursing home costs generally run from $12,000 to more than $16,000 per month. Paying privately would cost the family slightly less than $200,000 a year.

If a family member is facing a health crisis talk to the professionals at Sloan and Feller. A few facts go along way, unless you are stuck in traffic.

Is it too late to apply for Medicaid for Long Term Care?

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