Can I Still Qualify for Medicaid if I Give Away Assets?
Medicaid provides payment of medical bills for the poor of all ages. It can also provide payments for nursing home care for senior citizens. Because nursing homes are extremely expensive, many seniors wind up depending upon Medicaid to pay for nursing home bills, which are typically not covered by Medicare or by other private insurance providers. Unfortunately, there are many rules for Medicaid qualification and you could end up being unable to get Medicaid to pay for your nursing home care if you have too much money or if you transfer or give away assets.
There are options for Medicaid planning that can enable you to protect your money and property while still getting nursing home care paid for. However, you need to take action very early- well before you actually need Medicaid- in order to ensures that you do not jeopardize your access to benefits.
An experienced Cincinnati Medicaid planning attorney at Zimmer Law Firm can provide you with the guidance that you need to create a comprehensive plan. Our legal team can also advise you on what types of transactions could end up disqualifying you from Medicaid coverage.
Asset Transfers and Qualifying for Medicaid
The Ohio Department of Medicaid explains the qualifying requirements to become eligible for Medicaid benefits. The requirements make clear that Medicaid is a means-tested program, which means that there are both income limits and asset limits before you can get Medicaid to pay for nursing home care coverage or to pay for other medical expenditures.
Many seniors have spent a good portion of their lives working to save a retirement nest egg. Most seniors also own a home outright or have significant equity in the home. Owning assets, including money and property, can result in you being ineligible to receive Medicaid coverage for your nursing home care or other costs.
Nursing homes can cost more than $100,000 per year, so if Medicaid and insurance does not pay, you will end up needing to spend a lot of your money and assets to pay for your care. When you spend down money and assets, eventually you will fall below the asset limit and qualify for Medicaid and Medicaid will begin to pick up the nursing home bills at that time. Unfortunately, by the time you have spent down all of this money, you end up with nothing to leave behind as a legacy for those who you love.
To try to avoid this spending down of assets, many seniors who discover they need to go into a nursing home will decide to give a gift of money or property to their loved ones. For example, you may want to sign the deed to your house over to your children or you may want to transfer bank accounts and other financial accounts and properties into the names of family members. Unfortunately, this type of asset transfer can end up making you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time.
Medicaid and the Five-Year Lookback Period
Medicaid benefits are supposed to go only to those who are needy, and the government does not want you to transfer assets just to gain access to these benefits. As a result, there is a five-year lookback period in place. If you transfer assets within five years of trying to qualify for Medicaid benefits, you are going to be temporarily unable to qualify.
The amount of time that you are prevented from qualifying equals the value of assets divided by the costs of a nursing home in your area. For example, if you transferred $100,000 in assets and the average nursing home cost is $5000 per month, you would be disqualified from getting Medicaid coverage for ($100,000/$5,000) or 20 months.
You want to avoid this period when qualifying for benefits is impossible, so you should begin Medicaid planning early long before you end up needing to go into a nursing home.
How a Cincinnati Medicaid Planning Attorney Can Help You
The creation of a Medicaid plan is one of the most important parts of your estate planning. When you have worked hard and saved diligently your entire life, you should not have to lose all of your money and property just because you end up needing to spend time in a nursing home during your final years.
Zimmer Law Firm has extensive experience with Medicaid planning. We know the rules and legal tools that you can use to shield your assets so you can qualify for benefits more quickly. To learn more about how our Cincinnati Medicaid planning attorneys can assist you with creating a comprehensive plan, contact us today. Don’t wait to get started until it is too late. You can browse our special reports to learn more about the Medicaid planning process and you can give us a call at 513.721.1513 to set up your consultation and get your personalized Medicaid plan underway.