As they get older, many seniors dread the thought of having to go into a nursing home. No matter how nice a nursing home may appear to be, it’s still an institution. Unfortunately, if one lives long enough, nursing home care can become a necessity. Unless one is willing to see everything go to the nursing home, it’s important to make financial preparations far in advance.
Qualifying for Medicaid for Nursing Home Care
The average cost of nursing home care in Georgia is over $100,000 per year. In most instances, Medicare and private health insurance policies do not cover long-term care. Approximately 70% of nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid.
Medicaid has very strict income and asset requirements. A single person who is blind, disabled or over 65 must have a monthly income of $809 or less in 2014, about 87% of the Federal Poverty Level.
There are programs that help people to qualify. The Excess Income Program allows people to spend down their monthly income on qualifying medical expenses until the Medicaid limits are reached. Another program allows someone to pay their excess monthly income to the Department of Social Services. A third option that can be done at any age is to create a pooled income trust.
Couples face additional hurdles when one spouse must enter a nursing home without financial preparations in place. It’s not unknown for the assets of a lifetime to be spent on the nursing home, leaving the other spouse destitute.
The Look Back Period
Financial preparations should be made as soon as possible. Medicaid has a “look back period” of five years, meaning that when someone applies for Medicaid, financial transactions going back five years will be examined. Money given to others would count as an asset. Medicaid would assess a “penalty period” during which they would not pay. If $100,000 was given to a child and the nursing home cost $10,000 per month, Medicaid would not pay for 10 months of care.
It’s wise to consult Elder Law Attorneys in Newnan, GA, well in advance of the need for nursing home expenses. If one has not prepared and the need is suddenly there, Elder Law Attorneys in Newnan, GA, can advise on what can be done now. Daniel Campen has focused his legal career on helping people to preserve their assets for their families. Visit Campen Estate Planning & Elder Law website at www.campenestateplanning.com to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.