Is applying for Medicaid a “Do it yourself Project”?

Whether you should prepare and file a Medicaid application by yourself or should hire help depends on answers to the following questions: How old is the applicant? How complicated is the applicant’s financial situation? Is the individual applying for community or nursing home benefits? How much time do you have available? How organized are you? Medicaid is the health care program for individuals who do not have another form of insurance or whose insurance does not cover what they need, such as long-term care. Matters can get a bit more complicated for applicants age 65 and above and especially for those who need nursing home or other long-term care coverage. In these cases, using the services of an elder law attorney is practically essential. Medicaid applicants over age 65 are limited to $2,000 in countable assets. It’s possible to transfer assets over this amount in order to become eligible, but seniors need to be careful in doing so because they may need the funds in the future and if they move to a nursing home, the transfer could make them ineligible for benefits for up to five years. Best advice is not to give away your property or transfer assets until long term care is needed. In short, those over 65 in many cases will need to consult with an elder law attorney for planning purposes, and they or their families may be able to prepare and submit the Medicaid application themselves. But submitting an application for nursing home benefits without an attorney’s help is not a good idea.  This is because Medicaid officials may subject such applications to enhanced scrutiny, requiring up to five years of financial records and documentation of every fact. Any unexplained expense may be treated as a disqualifying transfer of assets, and many planning steps, such as trusts, transfers to family members, and family care agreements, are viewed as suspect unless properly explained. Finally, the process generally takes several months as Medicaid keeps asking questions and demanding further documentation for the answers provided. Many elder law attorneys offer assistance with Medicaid applications as part of their services. This has several advantages, including expert advice on how best to qualify for benefits as early as possible and preserving their life time savings, and making sure the well spouse or other family members have sufficient resources and income to make sure they can maintain their ongoing expenses and still have the money necessary to provide for any care needs not provided by Medicare. An Elder Law Attorney has experience in dealing with the more difficult eligibility questions that often arise, and a high level of service through a long, grueling process. The one drawback of using an attorney rather than a lay service is that the fee is typically substantially higher, however, given the high cost of nursing homes, $4,400.00 per month is the average in Texas, if the law firm’s assistance can accelerate eligibility by even one month that will generally cover the fee. In addition, the payments to the attorney are generally with funds that would otherwise be paid to the nursing home,  in other words, the funds will have to be spent in any event, whether for nursing home or for legal fees. Most Elder Law Attorneys will offer a review of your circumstances and let you know up front what they will be able to save you and tell you exactly what it will cost.  There is nothing to lose and it may just give you back some peace of mind. We have helped many families in the Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas area.  We have offices in Plano servicing our clients in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Little Elm, Denton, Lewisville, Garland, Richardson and Dallas.  Our other office is in Whitesboro and services Cooke, Grayson and Fannin Counties and the cities of Sherman, Denison, Bonham, Gainesville, Sanger, Valley View, Collinsville, Pilot Point, Celina, Gunter and Whitesboro. So give us a call at 1-800-939-9093 and see if we can help you too. Thanks, Richard 1-800-939-9093

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Legal Check-Up

FREE Elder Law Resources

Free Newsletter