If you are one of the millions of seniors struggling to cover the high cost of medical care you may be able to get some relief from the Medicaid program. The high cost of long-term and in-home care is the primary reason why over half of all retirees depend on Medicaid to help pay their healthcare costs. To qualify for Medicaid, however, you must have both income and countable resources that fall below the program limits. Transferring assets, both while receiving Medicaid benefits and for the five year period prior to applying for benefits, can cause you to be disqualified. Medicaid eligibility may not be lost though if you pay a family member to care for you. In fact, paying a family member to care for you may prove to be beneficial in a number of ways.
Although Americans now live almost twice as long as they did just a century earlier, a longer life expectancy does not mean the aging process slows down. Instead, it means you have an increased likelihood of needing assistance caring for yourself during those extra years. A long-term care facility is always an option; however, the need for long-term care might be avoided if you had regular help around your home. In-home care is expensive, but what if you could pay a family member for that care? Doing so would allow you to remain in your home and provide income to your family member. Best of all, in many states a Medicaid recipient may pay a family caregiver without the payments counting as an asset transfer.
Some states, including the State of New York, even take the concept of in-home care a step farther with programs specifically designed to help manage, and even fund, in-home care. You must apply separately to the program; however, if accepted you will be given a budget out of which you may pay any caregiver you wish, including a family member. Participating in an in-home care program typically means the recipient can spend months, even years, longer at home before having to resort to long-term care. It also mean you can either transfer your own assets to a family member or utilize program funds to accomplish the same thing, resulting in a “win-win” scenario for everyone.
Before making arrangements to pay a family caregiver it is in your best interest to sit down and discuss the Medicaid eligibility requirements and in-home caregiver program rules with your estate planning attorney to ensure that you do not do anything that could jeopardize your Medicaid eligibility now or in the future. If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning, or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.