In a recent post we talked about the eligibility requirements for Medicaid and the various Medicaid planning strategies.
But how do you actually apply for Medicaid?
If your situation is simple – say you have one bank account, never been married, don’t own a home and you live on your Social Security check – it’s a matter of filling out the application and sending it to the Department of Social Services with some basic documentation.
That situation is rare, however.
Many of us have a much more complicated lifestyle and portfolio. And when this is the case, you have to be extremely careful when applying for Medicaid.
Should you use a lawyer?
Because of the ramifications of incorrect Medicaid planning, we strongly recommend you work with an elder law attorney, not one of those non-lawyer firms that claim to do Medicaid applications. These organizations are not familiar with many of the laws governing Medicaid and they completely lack the estate planning expertise that is an integral part of the Medicaid planning process – especially for married couples. Read more…
Where do you get the application?
In Connecticut, the Medicaid application is called W-1 LTC. It is available both in print and online. The application form is available for download, and there is also a fillable form, which can be directly submitted, printed and mailed, or faxed.
The first two pages of the application include instructions and a checklist of documents DSS needs in order to process the application. You don’t need to provide original documents. DSS accepts copies of all documents relevant to your situation.
Right on Page 1 of the application form, in bold, capital letters is the instruction, “DO NOT WAIT TO APPLY.”
Even if you don’t have all the necessary documentation – and depending on your situation, you may need to submit a boat load of documentation – send in your application with what you do have while you are working on gathering the rest.
Once DSS has your application, it will notify you of any missing items it needs to process your application.
The purpose of the application is to establish your financial eligibility, as Medicaid is a need-based entitlement program. DSS requires detailed information about your income and assets, including:
- Income from all sources for both you and your spouse.
- Living expenses such as rent, mortgage payment, condo fees, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance, as well as utility bills including heat, gas and electric.
- Assets – Many people do not understand that you can’t give away your assets to become eligible for Medicaid. There is a five-year look-back period. DSS requires five years of financial statements for all active accounts including checking, savings, money market,stocks, bonds, CDs, retirement accounts, annuities, trusts, cash value in life insurance policies, and others.
- Other documents – see pages 1-2 of the application for complete listing; some may not apply to your situation.
Ideally, you would have made all the right decisions along the way, well before you actually had to fill out the application. But very often, people are confused about Medicaid.
Added to that, they may be applying in the middle of a major healthcare crisis – not the best time to chase down the extensive list of documents typically needed.
Plan before a crisis hits
Even if you have the paperwork ready to go, have you mapped out the best strategy that will give you the most help while protecting your assets as much as possible? If not, we recommend that you get help.
The best time to start planning of course is before a crisis strikes. Our elder law attorneys have many years of experience helping Connecticut residents get their Medicaid applications approved. And in doing so, have helped to protect assets that would have otherwise gone to the nursing home.
We hope this blog helped you understand the basics of the Medicaid application process. We won’t kid you – it can be grueling.