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ABOUT THIS PROJECT
LIFE IS FULL OF CHANGE
What is the one thing you can always count on in life? The one thing that you know and accept is inevitable? Change. It is the only thing that remains consistent in life; jobs come and go, houses are bought and sold, funds are replenished and depleted; but the one thing all of these instances have in common is that they cause change. What happens when change brings the necessity of nursing home care? The first step is finding the right location. Finding the funds to pay for this new lifestyle is the next daunting task. Our office seeks to make this stressful transition as easy as possible by assisting our clients in qualifying for Medicaid benefits.
LONG TERM CARE COST
Skilled nursing home care is expensive, and the costs are only increasing from generation to generation. On average skilled nursing homes cost $10,000 to $12,000 a month, depending on where you live. The majority of people end up paying for long-term nursing home care until they deplete their entire life savings, which generally only takes a few years after entering a nursing home. Medicaid can help prevent this from happening.
Medicaid is a Federal health care program, funded mainly by the Federal Government and administered by the State. To qualify for Medicaid income and asset requirements need to be met. Qualifying for Medicaid can be very difficult and requires a very extensive and time-consuming application process. However, without following this possible payment option, paying for nursing home care could be next to impossible.
Medicaid differs among states when it comes to eligibility. Pennsylvania does not have an income cap limit or test for nursing home Medicaid. However, a person’s assets cannot exceed a certain amount called the Individual Resource Allowance, which is $2,400 if their income is greater than $2,205 a month or $8,000 if their income is less than $2,205 a month. However, the complexity to Medicaid comes from the extensive list of assets that are exempt from Medicaid like your home and vehicles, for determining eligibility. However this figure is very low and alarming.
If the individual is married, it becomes even more complicated. For a married person to qualify for Medicaid, the spouse can only keep half the couple’s assets up to $120,900 which is called the Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance. However, there are ways to protect 100% of the assets for the community spouse. It is essential that a couple get advice from an Elder Law Attorney.
What options are available if the value of your assets exceeds the total of $120,900? If you decide to give away your excess assets, which might seem like the obvious choice, you will cause a greater problem. This is looked at as a Transfer Penalty where Medicaid in concerned, which could disqualify you for Medicaid for months or years, depending on the total given away.
How do you know what your best options are for Medicaid, and how do you find and interpret all of these laws and rules? While going through this process individually is difficult, and often results in frustration at unknown rules and laws that Pennsylvania throws at this program, our office can guide you in navigating this process. We have an experienced department that aims to make this process as simple as possible for all of our clients, ensuring that the laws and rules are interpreted and explained in language the average person can understand.
Jeffrey R. Bellomo, Esquire is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. As the owner of Bellomo & Associates, LLC he advises families about the legal challenges facing them today. He counsels clients and provides solutions on: Asset Protection, Special Needs Trusts, Wills, Trust Design, Guardianships, Medicaid and Estate Planning & Administration. His mission is to provide professional caring service to all his clients.