What is ElderLaw?
Elder law is a specialized area of law that involves counseling and assisting seniors, individuals with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues from Estate Planning to Long Term Care planning to coordination of government benefits and insurance.
A large part of Elder Law involves Medicaid Planning. With proper Medicaid Planning you can save your assets from the costs of long-term care. Most people are shocked to learn that the average cost for a nursing home resident in Pennsylvania is about $10,000.00 per month! They are also shocked to learn that Medicare and private health insurance do not cover this cost. At that price, long-term care costs can be devasting financially even for those with significant resources. As an Elder Law Lawyer who provides Medicaid Planning, I strive to educate individuals about two things:
- You do not have to spend all of your money on nursing home care.
- An Elder Law Attorney can help you protect your assets whether you need care right now or if you wish to plan for it in the future.
In fact, I offer a free half hour webinar on just this topic.
How to Protect your Home and Savings from Nursing Home Costs.
Simply click below to watch:
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a Federal program administered by the State of Pennsylvania. Medicaid provides health coverage to over 72.5 million Americans including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States. This coverage includes residential nursing home long-term care as well as home-based care services to enable individuals to remain in their homes rather than a nursing home.
How do I qualify for Medicaid?
To qualify for Medicaid benefits, one must meet certain eligibility requirements. There is both a financial and medical qualification. Medically, you must be “nursing home clinically eligible”. To meet this standard, your needs must be greater than just room and board and basic assistance. Those living in assisted living or personal care homes, for example, are not eligible for Medicaid long term care benefits.
The financial qualifications are also quite strict. You may only have a maximum of $8,000.00 in your own name. Not all assets that you own, however, are countable for Medicaid purposes. For example, you may still own a car, a home, a burial trust and personal items among other assets. In fact, many are surprised to learn that you may be eligible for Medicaid despite owning fairly substantial assets.
Qualifying for Medicaid and applying for benefits is a complex and confusing task. One must complete a specific application and supply what are usually voluminous records in support of the application. Despite supplying all necessary information and records, however, time consuming appeals are often necessary to secure benefits.
At Pecori & Pecori, we strive to make the Medicaid Application process as smooth as possible to get you the benefits that you need.
Injury settlement protection
For those individuals receiving government benefits such as from the Veterans Administration, Medicaid, SSI and/or HUD there are restrictions on the amount of income and assets they may own to remain eligible. The receipt of additional income or assets such as from an inheritance or injury settlement may disqualify recipients from their benefits. While the receipt of such funds may be a good thing, it can upset what is often a happy, independent, stable and safe living environment. To enable recipients to continue to receive their benefits and utilize additional income or assets, Special Needs planning is required.
Special needs planning usually involves the use of Special Needs Trust, discussed in more detail on our Estate Planning page. In short, a Special Needs Trust can be created to hold the additional assets for the benefit of the recipient without disqualifying them from their benefits. The funds from the Trust are not directly controlled or reachable by the recipient but, through a Trustee, they are available as a supplement to existing benefits.
If you are an individual receiving government benefits and you may be the recipient of an injury settlement or award, it is advised to seek the counsel of an Elder Law Lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting until the money is received is often too late.