Applying for Medicaid benefits can be overwhelming.
Between the paperwork, the ever-changing rules and regulations, and the inevitable waiting game that you’re up against, there’s a lot you need to know.
Here is information to get you started and hopefully, to make it easier for you.
1. What do you need?
You’ll need to collect all the necessary paperwork, including:
- Birth certificates
- Power of Attorney
- Marriage Certificate
- Divorce decree
- Life insurance policies
- Pre-paid funeral contracts
- Last 5 years of bank statements for all accounts
- Track all transactions of $5000 or more
- Last 5 years of tax returns
- Car registration
- Verification of income from Social Security, pensions, employment, rental income, veteran’s benefits, etc.
- Health insurance card and verification of monthly premium
- Complete all the Department of Social Services (DSS) forms and apply to your regional DSS office
2. What are the general eligibility rules?
- Asset limit is $1,600 for individual
- Assets must be $1,600 or less on the last day of each month that you’re seeking eligibility
- Real estate cannot be counted if you are making a good faith effort to sell
- If applicant’s assets are jointly held, they will be considered held by applicant unless proven otherwise
- The home is an exempt asset if:
- Applicant is expected to return
- Spouse or child under 21 lives there
- Disabled child, of any age, lives there
- Irrevocable burial contract of up to $10,000
- Up to $1,500 face value of life insurance
- The state cannot “look back” more than 5 years from the date of the application
3. What about the spouse at home?
- Total assets will be calculated on Date of Institutionalization (DOI)
- Can keep a maximum of $137,400
- Or a minimum of $27,480
- Can keep the house
- Some/all of institutionalized spouse’s income can be diverted to well spouse
- Can keep one car
4. Do you need to “spend down?”
If you need to spend down your money for Medicaid eligibility, here are the things you can purchase without a penalty:
- Pre-paid funerals
- New home or home improvements
- Clothing, dentures, hearing aid, glasses
- Furniture, TV, computer
5. Questions to ask before you engage an attorney to help you plan for Medicaid and/or long term care
There are many attorneys who prepare wills and trusts but few attorneys who really understand the Medicaid system and how to plan for long term care.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether or not an attorney is qualified to help you and your family with Medicaid and long term care issues.
1. Are there at least 2 attorneys in the law firm who focus on Medicaid/long term care planning?
2. Have attorneys in the firm been engaged in Medicaid/long term care planning for at least 10 years?
3. Are attorneys in the firm members of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Attorney’s Bar Association?
4. Are attorneys in the firm members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)?
5. Are attorneys in the firm either Certified Estate Planning Law Specialists or Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA)?
6. Does the firm handle at least five Medicaid planning cases a month?
7. Have attorneys in the firm completed Medicaid applications?
8. Is there someone in your firm who can provide guidance about income, gift and estate tax implications of Medicaid planning?
9. Do the attorneys in the firm regularly attend seminars on Medicaid and long term care issues?
10. Will there be a back-up paralegal who is familiar with Medicaid/long term care planning and will be familiar with your situation in case the attorney is not immediately available?
With the exorbitant costs of nursing home care, particularly in this state, Medicaid benefits could have a significant impact on your family’s financial future.
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