Do you need an attorney to apply for Medicaid when you or a loved one goes into the nursing home? There is a perception out there that it’s quick and easy to apply for Medicaid online, or that you go to your local Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and they walk you through the process. Those things may be true for people who are under 65 and do not need long-term care. For them, all they need to do is prove that they have a low-enough income to qualify. But if you are over 65 and applying for Medicaid for long-term care, it is a different process.
When you apply for Medicaid when you go into the nursing home, the application is scrutinized much more heavily due to the limitations on the amount of assets you are allowed to keep. Medicaid will want up to 5 years of your financial records and documentation to prove that you didn’t transfer or hide any assets just so you can qualify. And if you have assets in an irrevocable trust to protect your them from Medicaid, someone will need to explain to Medicaid that these are not “your” assets.
Even if you did everything right and have a bulletproof estate plan, Medicaid will still look closely at your personal financial picture; whether you qualify is not a cut-and-dried issue for them. The application process can take months, and this is after you choose from a variety of different and often confusing Medicaid programs.
If you are applying for Medicaid for long-term care purposes, you should have an attorney to help you through the process. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to explain your unique situation to Medicaid, handle any complex questions that come up, and help you qualify for Medicaid at an earlier time than you may be able to achieve on your own. And given that the cost of nursing home care is getting close to $7,000 a month just for a semi-private room, hiring an attorney to help you through this process will save you money, even if your eligibility is sped up by just a few weeks or a month.
Whether you already have your assets protected from Medicaid or are just starting to think about estate planning, we can help you get the Medicaid application process handled when the time comes. For more free information on this or other estate planning questions, feel free to give us a call at 740.346.2899 to set up a telephone consultation.