As we often stress to anyone we speak to at Scott Bloom Law, having a plan in place now will make things less stressful for you down the road. When it comes to Medicaid Planning, this is especially true because of the many variables involved. Retaining an elder law attorney is highly recommended because even though you may be able to download the appropriate paperwork on your own, the rules can be quite difficult for the average person to understand. An elder law attorney can help with Medicaid Planning by preventing you from unnecessarily spending down assets, offer guidance on how to manage finances to preserve eligibility, and prepare the application on your behalf.
Confusion Between Medicaid and Medicare
The difference between Medicaid and Medicare is often the biggest source of confusion for the elderly and their families. Medicare is an insurance program for adults 65 years old and over and for certain individuals with serious disabilities. Medicare is available regardless of assets or income but provides extremely limited coverage for long-term nursing home care. Expenses that are not covered by Medicare must be paid out of pocket or through a private long-term care insurance policy. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint federal and state program that pays for medical needs such as physician services, hospital care, and long-term care in a nursing home when a person does not have sufficient assets or income to handle these expenses on their own. Eligibility for Medicaid is determined independently in each state and while the basic eligibility standards are the same throughout the United States, there are differences state-by-state.
Benefits of Utilizing an Elder Law Attorney for Medicaid Planning
Our experience with Medicaid Planning allows us to have a comprehensive understanding of the rules and regulations in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We help families by identifying comprehensive strategies to legally obtain and maintain eligibility for public benefits. Below are just some of the specific ways in which an elder law attorney can help older individuals and their families navigate the tricky terrain of Medicaid.
- Avoiding Medicaid Penalties– Medicaid planning is very complex, and most people are not familiar with the various exceptions and exemptions to the gifting rules. For seniors who anticipate needing to apply for long-term care Medicaid within the next few years, devising a foolproof Medicaid planning strategy is the best way to ensure an application is approved. Each senior’s personal and financial situations are unique, so these strategies are not one-size-fits-all.
- Protecting Your Spouse– The financial Medicaid eligibility rules for married couples are different from those for unmarried applicants. An elder law attorney can devise a plan for a married couple to spend down their assets to qualify for long-term Medicaid but still retain enough resources for the healthy spouse to remain in their home and cover their costs of living.
- The Medicaid Spend-Down Process– The ways in which bank accounts and even real estate are titled can help or hurt an applicant’s Medicaid eligibility. Elder law attorneys are well-versed in these and many other legal, medical and financial factors that determine if and when a senior’s application is approved.
- Applying in a Timely Manner- Applying for Medicaid either too early or too late can cost a senior and their family many thousands of dollars. Applying too early may result in a penalty and a longer period of ineligibility than normal. too early may result in a penalty and a longer period of ineligibility than normal. On the other hand, applying too late means that an elder and their family would miss out on months of long-term care Medicaid coverage while awaiting a determination.
At Scott Bloom Law, we are a team of advocates who care, always fighting for what’s best for our clients and their families. With knowledge, experience, and compassion, we strive to find solutions that make the aging process as emotionally and financially easy as possible. Visit us at scottbloomlaw.com or call 215-364-1111, to talk to find out more.