It is scary to think you might suffer a physical or mental health crisis and be unable to pay for the care you need in a nursing home. Even if you have savings and income, the thought of all of that going to your care instead of your spouse or beneficiaries in a Will is frightening. However, with careful advance planning, you may be able to afford quality care if you need it and protect your property and assets at the same time. Our Estate Planning and Elder Law attorneys are experienced in Medicaid Planning and can design a plan that helps you accomplish your Estate Planning goals while protecting funds to pay for long-term care one day.
Medicaid for Long-Term Care
One thing all of our clients tend to have in common is confusion about Medicaid and whether they can qualify for it to pay for long-term care. People who have never been on Medicaid assume they will not be eligible for it as they age. Their information often comes from other people rather than knowledgeable sources and is often inaccurate.
The reality is that many people can qualify for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home if they plan for it. Why is this important? You may believe that as soon as you reach 65 and are covered by Medicare, you’ll be set. However, Medicare does not cover long-term care for more than 20 days. Medicaid, on the other hand, can be used to pay for a nursing home—if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Eligibility for Medicaid
Unlike Medicare, which is available to most people over the age of 65 regardless of income, Medicaid is a need-based program. It covers basic healthcare services for individuals of all ages who can demonstrate financial need. However, it can also cover nursing home care for older people who qualify.
In order to qualify for Medicaid for a nursing home, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen, or a foreign national living lawfully in the U.S., and a resident of the state where you are applying for benefits
- Be over the age of 65, disabled, or blind
- Have a gross monthly income of less than $2,313 (in 2019)
- Meet “medical necessity” requirements for skilled nursing care
- Meet certain asset requirements
- Live in a facility that accepts Medicaid
It is the income and asset requirements that often disqualify seniors in need of long-term care, but with the right kind of Estate Planning, you can make sure you qualify for the care you need without burning through your life savings.
How Medicaid Planning Works
When you meet with our Medicaid Planning team, we will discuss several options for making sure you qualify for these valuable benefits. If your current monthly income is higher than the amount allowed by Medicaid, you may be able to set up a Qualified Income Trust, also known as a Miller Trust. With this tool, your income will be transferred directly into the Trust and will not be counted when determining eligibility for Medicaid. You will receive a small monthly allowance from the Trust for personal needs, but will not have access to the money otherwise.
While a Miller Trust can take care of excessive income to help you qualify for Medicaid, it cannot be used to lower the value of your assets. Some of your assets—including your primary residence, one automobile, household goods, personal items, life insurance policies, and some business property—are exempt from consideration, but the value of any additional property, investments, and savings cannot exceed $2,000, or $3,000 for a married couple. Working with a Medicaid Planning Attorney, you will have options for reducing the value of your nonexempt assets and qualifying for Medicaid, but the sooner this is done, the better.
Contact Us Today to Get Started
It’s never too early to plan for the possibility that you or your spouse will one day need a nursing home. Fill out our contact form or give us a call, and we will tell you about the ways we may be able to help you protect your hard-earned savings. With four offices throughout Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas, we are conveniently located for clients from Dallas to Little Rock. Get started protecting your future today!