Elder Law & Medicaid Services & Veterans’ Benefits

Confused about Medicaid? You’re not alone! The complexity surrounding this constantly changing area of the law can sometimes feel overwhelming… it doesn’t need to be.

Caring for the elderly and ensuring their assets are protected are some of the primary services offered by our law firm.

What is Elder Law?

Elder Law involves planning for the complex health care, long-term care, and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. Studies show that we stand a 40 percent chance of needing long-term care at least once before we die. Therefore, everyone should take into account that at some point residency in a nursing home or an assisted living facility may be needed.

However, the substantial cost of nursing home care for an incapacitated person can wipe away a family’s nest egg and the inheritance planned for surviving family members. The primary alternative to privately paying the nursing home is Medicaid.

Medicaid Planning Myths

So many times clients come to our office under the mistaken impression that there is nothing that can be done to protect assets from nursing home costs. Fortunately much of the circulating consumer knowledge is false or misinterpreted. For example, it isn’t always necessary to wait 5 years after gifting assets to become eligible for Medicaid. The answer actually depends upon the specific facts of your case. With the help of an experienced Elder Law and Medicaid Planning attorney many of the assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating can be protected from high nursing home expenses.

Medicaid Asset Protection Strategies

Although with the recent passage of the Deficit Reduction Act, increased restrictions affect the use of some techniques, other asset protection strategies remain viable, especially for married couples where one spouse requires long-term care. Some of these techniques may include setting up an Irrevocable Living Trust, making gifts to family members, and paying for certain Medicaid expenses.

Whether you are facing long-term care issues yourself or you have a family member who is, we encourage you to call with your questions or ask us for a free report. Be sure to call sooner rather than later because the timing of the decisions families need to make has a dramatic impact on whether or not someone can actually qualify for this type of support.

Elder Law involves planning for the complex health care, long-term care, and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. Studies show that we stand a 40 percent chance of needing long-term care at least once before we die. Therefore, everyone should take into account that at some point residency in a nursing home or an assisted living facility may be needed.

Veterans’ Benefits

The Veterans Administration (VA) Aid & Attendance Special Pension provides monetary assistance to wartime veterans – and surviving spouses of deceased veterans – who need regular personal assistance. Qualifying aid or assistance can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home, and can be provided by friends, family members, or healthcare professionals.

If you or someone you love is a veteran and needs help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving, mobility, or other assistance, the Aid & Attendance benefit can provide funds you need to pay for that help.

Gathering and preparing the right documents is critical. Once you gather the right documentation, the next step is to complete and submit the appropriate application form.

The process can take four to six months (or longer), so make sure you do your best to avoid any additional delays along the way.

Keep in mind, while applying and qualifying does take time, benefit payments are retroactive to the date the VA received the application. During this time the applicant must be actually incurring the costs of care. So time is of the essence and an incorrect application will create a nightmare of expense and uncertainty.

critical.) If the veteran has significant assets or a monthly income over the program limits, they may not qualify for Aid & Assistance. Roughly speaking, if an individual or couple has assets – not including their home, automobiles, and personal property – over $80,000, qualifying may be difficult. However, it is no longer possible to assure a Vet that he/she can qualify for benefits if his assets are below a certain amount. The asset threshold depends upon the age and life expectancy of the applicant (and spouse) and the ratio of health-related expenses to income and is to some degree discretionary with the VA caseworker. But an experienced benefits consultant can help to make a highly educated guess about how much the Vet can have.

With proper planning in advance, making qualifying gifts and setting up appropriate trusts can effectively reduce a veteran’s asset worth. Just keep in mind that giving away assets can affect eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Our office can help coordinate estate planning, VA considerations, and Medicaid considerations to limit risk and maximize benefits.

If you or your loved one meets the requirements, the Aid & Assistance Pension Benefit could provide thousands of dollars each year to meet medical expenses and provide necessary care. However, the application process is complicated and time-consuming. For some people, reallocating assets and shifting income may be necessary – and those reallocations could have a significant impact on Medicaid eligibility, whether now or in the future.

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