Family Caregivers: Some Important Information
As elder law attorneys, we focus on matters that are of importance to senior citizens and their families. At the present time, there is a phenomenon emerging that has led to the development of a new term: “the sandwich generation.” This is the group of individuals that are typically in their 30s or 40s that are simultaneously caring for their own children and their aging parents.
Of course, there are older people that act as caregivers for members of their families. November was National Family Caregiver Month, and it was recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association. When you explore their website, you see some very eye-opening statistics. They have found that one out of every eight senior citizens has contracted Alzheimer’s disease, and the number goes up to four out of 10 when you are looking at people that are at least 85 years of age.
If you are interested in getting involved in the struggle against Alzheimer’s, or if you need support, there is a Cincinnati chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. It has actually been active since 1983. You can visit their web page to learn more, and if you would like to give them a call, they can be reached at 800-272-3900, and they provide help 24 hours a day.
Coping With Long-Term Care Costs
We join everyone in honoring the people around the country that are caring for family members that need help with their activities of daily living. This being stated, sometimes the level of care that is required cannot be provided by nonprofessionals in a home setting.
The age of eligibility for Medicare coverage is 65, and since it is intended for senior citizens for the most part, you would assume that it would pay for long-term care. Most seniors will eventually need living assistance, so a program that is specifically designed to meet the health care needs of elders would logically cover nursing home and assisted living community costs.
To many people, it does not make a lot of sense, but in fact, Medicare will not help with assisted living expenses. This is a very big problem, because nursing homes are exorbitantly expensive, and assisted living facilities are also costly. According to a 2018 survey that was conducted by Genworth Financial, in Cincinnati where we practice law, the median annual charge for a private room in a nursing home is right around $100,000.
In many cases, two people that are married will eventually need nursing home care. This is something to keep in mind when you are evaluating the impact of long-term care costs. Plus, as we reported last month, these expenses are expected to rise by 4 percent each year for the next five years.
Fortunately, there is a widely embraced solution in the form of Medicaid coverage. This jointly administered federal/state health insurance program will cover custodial care if you can gain eligibility. However, this is easier said than done, because there is a low asset limit of just $2000, because Medicaid is only available to financially needy individuals.
You can give gifts to your loved ones so that you have limited assets in your own name when you apply for Medicaid coverage to pay for nursing home care. Though this is possible, it takes careful planning, because there is a five-year look back period. A penalty is imposed, and you cannot gain eligibility for a particular interim if you violate this rule.
The length of the penalty is tied to the amount that you gave away as it compares to the average cost of nursing home care in Ohio. As we have stated, the median cost for a year in a private room in a nursing home in Cincinnati is right around $100,000, but Medicaid uses a statewide average figure to calculate the penalty. At the time of this writing the number is $6570 a month, which factors out to $78,840 a year.
To explain the penalty period by way of example, let’s say that you gave away $158,000 in 2016, and you apply for Medicaid in 2018. You would violate the look back rule, and the amount that you gave away would have paid for two years of nursing home using the Ohio formula. Under these circumstances, your eligibility would be delayed by two years.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you would like to discuss nursing home asset protection with one of our licensed elder law attorneys, give us a call at 513-721-1513 to schedule a consultation. There is also a contact form on this website that you can use to send us a message.