Are you a senior living in Long Island who has a sudden need to qualify for Medicaid benefits? Are you worried that you won’t qualify without putting your life savings at risk? If so, you are not alone. Many seniors find themselves in exactly this position as a result of their failure to include Medicaid planning in their estate plan early on in life. Many people make this mistake because they cannot foresee the need to qualify for Medicaid in the future and/or they are not aware of the hurdles they might face when applying for Medicaid benefits. The good news is that there may be help available for you. A Long Island Medicaid attorney may be able to help you protect some of your assets even if you need to qualify for benefits immediately.
Why Would You Need to Qualify for Medicaid Immediately?
The sudden, unexpected, need to qualify for Medicaid benefits usually occurs as a result of the sudden need for long-term care. Long-term care (LTC) is typically needed when someone becomes incapacitated as a result of a tragic accident, a serious illness, or as a result of Alzheimer’s disease or other old age related dementia diseases. When LTC is needed because of a sudden, unexpected incapacitating event it can cause a corresponding immediate need to qualify for Medicaid. Why? Because LTC is very expensive. Nationwide, LTC costs about $80,000 per year, on average. In the State of New York, you can expect to pay over $130,000 per year, on average, for LTC. Your health insurance coverage won’t help you unless you purchase separate long-term care (LTC) insurance. Medicare can’t help either as it only covers LTC under very narrow circumstances and even then for only a short period of time. Unless you can cover your LTC expenses out of pocket, that leaves qualifying for Medicaid as your only option for assistance which can lead to the immediate need to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
What Is the Problem with Qualifying for Medicaid?
Although Medicaid will cover nursing home expenses, you must first qualify for benefits. To qualify, you must have income and assets, or “countable resources” that fall below the program limits – and those limits are very low. Although the State of New York makes allowances for the high cost of living in the state, it is still easy for an applicant to exceed the income and/or asset limit. Transferring assets at the last minute won’t work either because Medicaid uses a five-year “look-back” period. If the value of your countable resources exceeds the limit you will be required to go through a waiting period before Medicaid will approve you for benefits. The length of the waiting period is based on a formula that takes into account the value of your assets and the average cost of LTC in the state. During the waiting period you will be expected to cover your LTC costs yourself using your countable resources. The result is that you could lose your life savings in a very short period of time if you cannot qualify for Medicaid immediately.
How Can a Long Island Medicaid Attorney Help?
Ideally, Medicaid planning is added to an estate plan early on so that the individual has removed non-exempt assets from his or her “countable resources” well outside of the five year “look-back” period by the time Medicaid benefits are needed. Sometimes though, benefits are needed immediately and a Medicaid plan doesn’t exist. That doesn’t mean an experienced Long Island Medicaid attorney can’t help you though. Last minute Medicaid planning may be able to save some, even all, of your non-exempt assets. For example, your Long Island Medicaid attorney might be able to help you convert non-exempt assets into exempt assets and/or effectuate asset transfers that don’t violate the “look-back” rules. The key to protecting your assets and qualifying for Medicaid is to consult with an experienced Long Island Medicaid attorney right away when you realize you need to qualify for benefits.
If you have additional questions or concerns about qualifying for New York Medicaid, contact an experienced Long Island Medicaid attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.