According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)’s Administration on Aging (AOA), around 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care services at some point in their life. This means they will need assistance with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing, or bathing. Some may need an even higher level of care such as skilled nursing care. Typically, long-term care refers to care that is delivered at home, in a hospital, or in an assisted living facility. When long-term caregiving needs arise, because of illness, disability, or increasing personal care needs, paying for care can become a significant burden upon them or their family. At Scott Bloom Law, we have a long track record of helping elderly individuals and their families in developing a plan for long-term care and choosing the best options in each case. Below we will discuss some common questions people have about long-term care.
How long will I need long-term care?
According to the latest AOA research, the average woman needs long-term care services for 3.7 years, and the average man for 2.2 years. Keep in mind, these numbers may include some combination of care within the home (provided by family members and/or paid caregivers), care in an assisted living community, and/or care in a skilled nursing facility. Meanwhile, sixty percent of assisted living residents will eventually need a higher level of care, often necessitating a move to a separate skilled nursing facility.
What are my options for paying for long-term care?
Here are some of the options available when paying for any type of long-term care.
1. Cash/Private Pay– The very wealthy can simply pay out of pocket for whatever long-term care they need. These costs can range from approximately $30,000 per year to $150,000 per year. All but the wealthiest individual will find that long-term care costs are absolutely devastating to the life savings of the long-term care recipient and will put undue stress upon their spouse and/or family.
3. VA– Veterans and spouses of veterans may have access to an improved pension for the elderly and disabled that may provide about $1,000 – $2,000 per month depending on a variety of factors. The VA Improved Pension / VA Aid and Attendance benefit can be extremely useful for those elders who need assistance paying for home health aides and assisted living facilities. However, the benefit will not be of much use for those requiring nursing home level of care.
4. Medicaid– Medicaid is a federal-state program that provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including senior citizens (65 or older). It is the largest payer of nursing home bills in the United States and a final resort for those who have run out of ways to pay for their long-term care. To qualify, your assets and monthly income must fall below a minimum standard.
Why Do I Need to Protect Assets from Nursing Home Costs?
Since Medicaid eligibility is based on income, a person’s assets could be depleted by the time they qualify for Medicaid coverage. They may not have anything left for their own living costs if they leave the nursing home or for their loved one’s inheritance. In addition, when a Medicaid recipient dies, the government will try to recover what they paid out in benefits for nursing home coverage to the decedent.
How Do I Protect My Assets from Nursing Home Costs?
This is where early planning is most beneficial. Protecting assets from nursing home costs can be done with the guidance of an experienced attorney. There are various strategies we employ at Scott Bloom Law to maximize the protection of assets. It is important to remember that Medicaid has a five-year look-back provision. This means that the government can look back at assets that were transferred within a person’s estate for a five-year period before the Medicaid application. If the transfer was not exempt, the person may not be eligible for Medicaid for a certain length of time. For this reason, it is best to start with an attorney from the very beginning of estate and nursing home cost planning.
Due to the many facets involved, the importance of discussing your long-term care planning with an experienced elder law attorney can not be overstated. At Scott Bloom Law, we have helped countless elders and their families develop plans that takes both their current and future needs in to account. As with all planning, getting started as soon as possible is crucial in ensuring all of your needs are met.
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.