Unlike Medicaid planning, Medicaid qualification is the actual process of applying for the benefit to ensure Medicaid will actually begin paying for your care. The qualification process for Medicaid requires a multiple page application and the necessity to supply a number of years of specific detail of all of your financial records and transactions. The completion of the application is extensive and the process for approval, in the best case scenario, takes several months.
Any glitch along the way will most likely make you ineligible for benefits. Sometimes people are denied Medicaid benefits improperly but were unable to get it overturned because they failed to preserve their legal rights along the way. As a result, these people have to have to file a new application and lost months of benefit. Often hospitals and nursing homes will offer to apply for Medicaid for you at no cost. Be careful, they do not represent you, they represent the best interest for the institution they work for. Even with the best intentions, they often do not have the legal knowledge necessary to determine whether or not your qualification is accurate. In many instance, we have Medicaid benefits awarded when institutions could not.
This is where we, as attorneys, can really be of value and often times able to get you benefits sooner and protect more of your assets. Don’t do it alone. Let us handle your Medicaid qualification for you and protect your legal rights, so you can attend to your family member in need. In most cases, the fee you pay us is with your assets slated to go to the nursing home anyway.
Tale of Two Sisters
Two sisters were in disagreement.
They had each sought legal advice about Medicaid qualification for their ailing mother.
Mary, the decision maker, was dealing with the financial aspects of her mother’s care as an Alzheimer’s patient. Her sister Alice was dealing with the emotional impact of what her father was going through as the primary caretaker. Mary got advice from her father’s attorney, a man who had been with the family for many years. As it turns out, Medicaid was not his specialty.
Alice insisted that she and Mary meet with another attorney in town, who was well known for expertise in Medicaid. After a long discussion, Mary was persuaded to get a second opinion from Alice’s attorney.
Mary joked at the meeting with Alice’s attorney that the only reason they were there was to satisfy Alice so Mary could get on with the process. Mary had already been told by her father’s attorney that they would lose over $400,000 in assets and that there was simply nothing the family could do to prevent it. The girls’ father would be forced to live on what little was left after the family savings was spent for his wife’s care. Mary trusted the family attorney and believed him.
The second opinion process began with the completion of a simple form. In less than twenty-four hours, the new attorney shared with Mary and Alice that their mother could qualify for Medicaid without spending the family savings. Mary was in shock. He then went on to explain that not only could the family achieve that result, but that it was completely legal under the law so long as all rules were followed.
The attorney asked the sisters which result would they would like better, the one depleting $400,000 of the family’s assets or the one that allowed their father to keep hold on his life savings and live life with dignity.
This is a true story.
Every day we face tough choices like these. It is often the caregiver or the children who are forced to make these decisions. Without proper counsel and expertise many things go wrong that could have been avoided. Family wars break out because everyone wants to do what is best but no one knows how to achieve it.
Many people willingly volunteer to care for parents or loved ones without any promise of compensation.
One part of the solution for this family could be a caregiver contract, sometimes called a personal service or personal care agreement.
Such contracts have many benefits. They reward the family member doing the work. They can help alleviate tension between family members by making sure the work is fairly compensated. In addition, these types on contracts can serve a key role in Medicaid planning, helping to re-direct savings so that the failing family member may more easily qualify for Medicaid coverage. This is a document that, when designed correctly, can have enormous and immediate benefits.
If you or someone you know is facing this situation, let them know that there is hope. Have them call us to arrange a time to meet as soon as possible.
Takings such a step will help them learn what they need to know to keep Mom from being forced into poverty- and making sure that all mom’s “stuff” is protected.