Millions Could Lose Medicaid When Pandemic is Declared Over- How to Protect Your Coverage?

While the decline of COVID-19 cases is a relieving sign of progress, the end of the pandemic could mean the end of Medicaid coverage for millions. Federal law prevented states from stopping Medicaid benefits until the pandemic is declared over. As we near the end of the health emergency, it is vital you understand how to protect your coverage.

Congress passed a law providing that the state could not terminate the benefits of Medicaid recipients who were enrolled as of March 18, 2020. It states that the coverage must continue through the end of the month that the Secretary declares the pandemic has ended. Although the public health emergency has not officially ended yet, the Biden administration intends it to some time in 2022.

Protecting Medicaid Coverage After the Pandemic

The impact this could have on your Medicaid is not fully defined, but it is estimated that about 15-million non-elderly people could lose their coverage. Further, it is important you understand your options for maintaining your long-term care. Planning in advance is required for protecting your future health needs. Below are four different strategies you could adopt to help keep your Medicaid coverage.

1. Asset Protection and Income Trusts

Asset protection trusts allow your wealth to be distributed to the same people when you die so your loved ones don’t have to pay capital gains tax on the amount your assets have increased in value during your lifetime. Assets transferred to an asset protection trust don’t belong to you. Be sure to note that transfers to trusts that occur within five years of when you need the Medicaid will be subject to the look-back period, so you must plan well in advance of when you need the care.

When applying for Medicaid, the income limits are strict. If your income surpasses the qualification threshold, it must be adjusted accordingly. A method to do this is establishing a qualified income or pooled income trust. A qualified income trust is irrevocable and can be established to hold the amount of income that exceeds your Medicaid limits. In some states, you can spend down the amount of income that is excessive so you can meet eligibility requirements, while in others you cannot. A pooled income trust is another type of irrevocable trust that holds excess income, designed for people who are disabled. Moreover, you can decide which of these types of trusts is the best fit for your individual needs.

2. Promissory Notes and Private Annuities

Make sure you are not giving away your assets and money during the look-back period, as you will be penalized. A promissory note or private annuity allows you to create a cash flow from your other assets so you can use it to pay for your nursing home care during a shorter penalty period.

3. Caregiver Agreement

A caregiver agreement may provide access to services that otherwise would not be included in Medicaid. Under this, a trusted family member may leave his or her job to care for the elderly individual. Services may be paid for in advance to reduce the countable income for Medicaid eligibility. For a caregiver agreement to be accepted by Medicaid, you must do the following:

  • Define hours and services in the contract
  • Maintain a daily log of hours and services
  • Pay to Medicaid the unearned amounts that remain upon your death
  • Calculate lump sum payment using market rates for services and reasonable life expectancy

4. Spousal Transfers

Transfers of assets between spouses are both permitted under the law and not subject to the look-back period, making it an appealing means of healthcare coverage protection. This makes the ill spouse eligible for Medicaid, while Medicaid reserves the right to ask for monetary contributions from the healthy partner. Note that in states that don’t allow spousal refusal, both spouses' resources are counted towards the eligibility requirement, defeating the purpose of this strategy.

For more information on how to protect your Medicaid coverage, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395.

What to Do If Your Medicaid Application Is Denied

If your Medicaid application is denied, you may initially feel hopeless, but you have the opportunity to appeal the decision. While the requirements of Medicaid are strict for low-income individuals, there is the potential to gain great benefits. Qualifying for medicaid is a complicated process, so if you are denied at first, do not panic.

What To Do If Medicaid Denies Your Application

Medicaid is a federal and state program that assists with the cost of healthcare for those who cannot afford it. It is comprehensive health coverage that covers a number of circumstances. Eligibility varies, but in New York, you must be either pregnant, responsible for a child 18 years old or younger, blind, disabled, live with a disabled family member, or be 65 years or older. The income threshold ranges based on the household size. You can apply by phone, via a written application, or by going to your local department of social services, or on the New York State of Health website.

Upon receiving a Medicaid decision, rejection is fairly common, even if you are eligible. Below are common reasons why your Medicaid application may have been declined.

1. Missing or Incomplete Documentation

You must have a complete packet when filing your Medicaid application. While in the past they would wait for supplemental documentation if they knew you were in the process of obtaining additional information, now they are quick to deny if you do not follow up. Be sure to provide the correct documentation and fill out the entirety of the application.

2. Excess Assets

In order to be eligible, there are strict caps on the number of assets one may have. Review the income and countable assets requirements for your given state. In New York, the asset limit is $15,900, while just about every other state's cap is $2,000.

3. Transferred Assets

If you transferred assets within five years of applying for Medicaid for less than market value, you may be subject to a penalty. If a transfer of assets is to a disabled or legally blind child, you are exempt from asset transfer penalties in New York.

You will be issued a denial notice within 45 days of the application or 90 days if you filed for benefits because of disability. Upon receiving your denial notice, review it carefully and follow the directions on how to file an appeal.

Before this, you can attempt to informally ask the agent to reverse the decision. If you were declined because you made a mistake, this is the easiest and most efficient way to proceed. Escalation to a supervisor or a formal appeal may be unnecessarily complicated depending on the reason you were rejected.

The deadline to appeal may be as short as 30 days or as long as 90 days following the denial notice. Regardless of if it is requested, be sure to submit your request for appeal in writing so there is a record of it. You must be diligent about submitting by the deadline. 

After you submit, the Medicaid agency will set a hearing date. Applicants must attend the hearing or else their case will be dismissed. You have the right to have witnesses testify at the hearing and to question the witness of the Medicaid agency. 

An attorney can ensure you have all of the correct documentation and materials to present at your appeal hearing. If you win, you will receive your rightful benefits. If you lose, the notice will outline how to appeal your decision, which usually involves written arguments. You must have the assistance of an attorney for this step.

To hire a medicaid planning attorney, contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395

Upcoming Changes to NY Medicaid 2022-23

Medicaid is operated on both federal and state levels, which provides a range of benefits in medical and health. Medicaid primarily is for individuals who suffer from chronic illness, are in cognitive or physical decline, injured/disabled, and require consistent medical treatment. Laws surrounding who qualifies for Medicaid change constantly, meaning it’s necessary to stay informed on the latest changes to be aware of your eligibility status. Below are some new and upcoming changes to Medicaid.

Upcoming Changes to Medicaid

Upcoming Changes to Medicaid in 2022:

Independent Assessor for Home Care - In Effect May 1, 2022

As of May 1 2022, Medicaid applicants over the age of 18 applying for Personal Care or Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) services will need to go through nurse assessments conducted by New York Independent Assessor (NYIA). The NYIA will conduct nursing assessments for “Immediate Need” applicants and others who apply to the local Department of Social Services, which is the Human Resource Administration (HRA) in NYC for personal care or CDPAP.

The NYIA will be conducting a clinical assessment in addition to a standard nurse assessment by either a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner. With these tests, the NYIA will determine if an applicant is eligible for personal care or CDPAP. If the applicant is deemed ineligible, they have Fair Hearing rights, meaning they can appeal their decision.

If the NYIA deems the applicant eligible, they are referred back to their local Medicaid office. The previous assessments will then be used to determine how many hours of personal care or CDPAP should be authorized. If you are approved for over 12 hours of personal care a day, the Medicaid Office or plan must refer the case back to the Independent Assessor for a third assessment, which is an Independent Medical Review (IMR). An IMR is used to determine whether the proposed plan of care is safe and can maintain the health of the applicant when they are home.

Increases in Medicaid Eligibility of Applicants 65+ and Blind/Disabled Individuals - In Effect January 1, 2023

New York Governor Hochul and State Legislature passed four increases in Medicaid eligibility for New Yorkers who are 65+ blind, or disabled in the NYS budget. Below are the four changes that will go into effect:

  • Medicaid Asset Limit has increased by nearly 50%
  • Medicaid Income Limit has increased to the same amount used for Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) Medicaid for younger people (138% Federal Poverty Line or “FPL”)
  • Medicare Savings Program: Qualified Medicare Beneficiary limit increased from 100% to 138% FPL. Individuals with higher incomes not exceeding 186% FPL will be eligible for QI-1.
  • Undocumented Immigrants Age 65+ will not be eligible for full Medicaid benefits as opposed to only “emergency” Medicaid

New Medicaid Limits in 2023 for 65+, Blind, & Disabled

Benefit Federal Poverty Line % SINGLES COUPLES
2022 2023 2022 2023 2022 2023
Income Limit Per Month
Medicaid 82% 138% $934 $1,563 $1,367 $2,106
QMB 100% 138% $1,133 $1,563 $1,526 $2,106
QI-1 135% 186% $1,529 $2,107 $2,060 $2,838
Medicaid Asset Limit $16,800 $28,134 $24,600 $37,908

Public Health Emergency - Extended Through July 2022

The Biden administration extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on April 13, 2022 for 90 days. This means that the government is prohibited from discontinuing or cutting funding for Medicaid through July 2022. 

This means restrictions on eligibility cannot be implemented before October 1, 2022, which would include the 30-month “lookback” that would disqualify applicants from obtaining home care benefits, or require applicants from needing physical assistance with 3 activities of daily living or two if diagnosed with dementia in order to qualify for CDPAP.

For more information on NY Medicaid changes from 2022 to 2023, contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395.

Can I Give My Assets Away To Qualify for Medicaid?

Many individuals are forced to consider applying for Medicaid for a host of reasons, all mainly to help alleviate the cost of medical care. Medicaid is a joint federal and state public health insurance program for people with low income. The program covers 1 in 5 Americans, many with intricate and expensive needs for medical care. Medicaid is the principal source of long-term care coverage for many Americans. The majority of Medicaid enrollees lack access to other affordable health insurance. Medicaid covers a broad array of health services and helps limit out-of-pocket costs.

can-i-give-my-assets-away-for-medicaid-eligibility

There are many factors to consider when applying for Medicaid, and this is widely due to the eligibility requirements that Medicaid has. If an individual has too many assets, they won’t be able to qualify for Medicaid. However, there are many legal ways to move your assets, which can allow you or a loved one to be eligible for Medicaid.

1) What qualifications do you need to have to become eligible for Medicaid? 

To be eligible for New York Medicaid, you have to be a resident of New York State, a U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien, in need of health care/insurance assistance, whose financial situation would be characterized as low income or very low income. You must also be one of the following:

  • Pregnant, or
  • Be responsible for a child 18 years of age or younger, or
  • Blind, or
  • Have a disability or a family member in your household with a disability, or
  • Be 65 years of age or older.

But the primary concern regarding Medicaid qualifications for many Americans is what is considered low income.  

2) How does Medicaid know what assets you have?

When you are determining if you are eligible for Medicaid, the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) will evaluate the Medicaid applicant or recipient’s income and assets that actually or will potentially exist. However, only such income and/or assets that are actually found to be readily available to the applicant may be considered in determining eligibility for Medicaid. In 2021, an individual can have no more than $17,131 in income to be eligible for Medicaid. 

Can I Give My Assets Away As A “Gift” To Qualify for Medicaid?

In general, while determining the Medicaid eligibility, any gifting of assets made by the applicant within the look-back period will render the person ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. Currently, the look-back period is five (5) years prior to the date of application.

Everyday common gifts can be considered by this vague word, “gift.” For example, paying for your grandchildren’s college education or contributing to your local church can all be considered gifts for purposes of determining Medicaid. A common myth is that you are allowed to gift $17,131 each year without incurring a penalty for Medicaid eligibility purposes. But as the word myth suggests, this is incorrect. In 2021, the annual gift tax exclusion for federal gift tax purposes is $15,000. That means that you can open the phone book and give everyone in the phone book $15,000 this year without filing a gift tax return. However, federal tax law has nothing to do with Medicaid eligibility rules. If you are gifting $15,000 each year, those gifts will still be evaluated for Medicaid eligibility purposes.

When is a gift not a gift (or in Medicaid terms a “transfer”) for Medicaid eligibility purposes? New York State law states that a person will not be ineligible for Medicaid if they transferred assets unless it was transferred exclusively for a purpose other than Medicaid eligibility. Ok, that seems easy enough. For example, you obviously didn’t pay for your grandchildren’s college education because you were specifically trying to qualify for Medicaid. However, as a matter of policy, DSS has historically been reluctant to accept this argument from applicants who have made significant gifts of assets like paying thousands of dollars for college. The result is that many individuals are denied Medicaid eligibility despite making regular (and necessary) gifts during the look-back period. However, there have been instances where applicants successfully argued that gifts made during the lookback period were for purposes other than to qualify for Medicaid and therefore, eligible for Medicaid. While determining the applicant’s intention, the DSS will consider things such as the applicant’s physical and mental condition at the time of the gift, the applicant’s use of the gifted funds, and the applicant’s financial security. The DSS may also evaluate whether the applicant gifted their own funds or if they received the funds through inheritance or windfall. To add, the DSS may check to make sure how much time passed between the gifting and the applicant’s institutionalization and whether this applicant lived alone when they made the gifts. Finally, the DSS may review whether the applicant had considered institutionalized care when the gifts were made.

3) Do assets disqualify you from having Medicaid?

No, not necessarily. Having assets won’t automatically disqualify you from having Medicaid. For example, in New York, a single applicant who is blind, disabled, or 65 and older is allowed to retain $15,900 in liquid assets. And for married couples, asset limits vary by the state, the Medicaid program, and if one or both spouses are applying for Medicaid.

However, just because a senior’s assets exceed the general limits listed above it does not mean they are automatically ineligible for Medicaid. States implement different rules and resource limits, and an elder can create a personalized asset spend-down plan to meet their state’s eligibility criteria. States also have varying laws regarding trusts and how they are counted, or not counted, when determining Medicaid eligibility. 

There are also many other guidelines for calculating income and figuring out one’s medical need for care and assistance. Also, different financial rules apply to married couples. It is recommended to familiarize yourself with these eligibility requirements early on in case you ever need to help an aging loved one apply for Medicaid (or file an application yourself).

4) How can an Elder Law Attorney help?

Given the economic environment, it is common for lawyers to encounter situations where applicants gift their children or grandchildren during the look-back period which makes the Medicaid application process more complicated. And in most cases, handling the application process without any professional assistance can result in a determination of ineligibility and even a costly Medicaid penalty period. The assistance of competent counsel practicing in the area of elder law is imperative. It is important to work with an experienced elder law attorney with Medicaid planning experience. 

For further Medicaid planning, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395 to receive the most highly qualified legal advice.

How Does A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust Work?

Today we are going to learn about what a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is and how it works. We also going to discuss when it should be used, it’s benefits and how an elder law attorney can help you through the process.

What is a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust?

A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, sometimes called Pooled Income Trust, is a tool to protect your assets and allow people to qualify for Medicaid long-term care.

how-a-medicaid-asset-protection-trust-works

When should a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust be used?

To protect your assets, the trust has to be created 2.5 years before home care Medicaid is needed or 5 years before nursing home care is needed. This is because Medicaid inputs a “look-back” period when someone applies for Medicaid. The reason a certain period of time has to pass before your assets are protected is that the transfer of assets into a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is considered a “gift.” Medicaid also enforces strict income and asset guidelines. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you cannot have more than $2,000 of liquid assets. Liquid assets are assets that can be easily converted to cash in a short amount of time. Examples include cash, checking accounts, and saving accounts. Once you meet the guidelines, Medicaid looks into what happened to your assets which is why you need to prepare years beforehand. The applicant still has to report the existence of the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust – it is not hidden from the government in any way.

How Does a Medicaid Trust Work?

A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is an irrevocable trust which means once it has been made, it cannot be changed or terminated without the permission of the grantor’s beneficiary. Assets placed in the trust are considered gifts to the beneficiaries, which protects the assets from Medicaid. In New York, an irrevocable trust can be revoked as long as the beneficiaries and the grantor consent to it. But, beware that once a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is revoked, the assets are no longer protected by this trust. 

The Grantor of a Medicaid Trust has to name someone other than themselves or their spouse as the Trustee. This means that the Grantor is giving up control. However, the Grantor still has the power to remove and change any trustee as well as the power to change the beneficiaries of the Trust. If the Grantor owns a home, they can maintain the right to live in that home rent-free for their entire life, and their spouse can do so too. This “life estate” lets the grantor continue to obtain any property tax exemptions.

The Grantor is not entitled to the principal of any assets placed in an Irrevocable Trust which means that they are not entitled to any of the property that can generate ordinary income.
However, they can receive all income (interest, dividends, rental income, etc.) that the Trust assets may generate. The Trustee’s role is to invest the assets held by the Trust. However, because the Grantor maintains some control over assets in the Medicaid Trust, it is considered a grantor trust, and they are still taxed on any income.

When an Irrevocable Trust is created, assets that the Grantor wants to protect will be retitled in the name of the Trust, which is known as “funding the trust.” Assets can include anything from a checking or brokerage account to property. However, Individual Retirement Accounts do not get retitled into the name of the Trust because they are already protected for Medicaid purposes by law – as long as the required minimum distribution is taken. 

Usually, Grantors will place their home and some liquid assets in the trust and name a child as trustee then not think about it for years. Most trusts provide that after the death of one of the spouses, the income interest continues for the surviving spouse. Then, after the death of the remaining spouse, the assets are distributed to beneficiaries as they would be in a will. 

What are the benefits?

The main benefit of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is the ability to receive Medicaid. In general, with trusts, you can protect your and your family’s assets and pass on any valuable assets, like property. Some other specific benefits have been mentioned above such as property tax exemptions, uninterrupted income, and the ability to still use the assets after the grantor’s death. Some other benefits include:
● Avoidance of probate court
● Maintenance of privacy
● Avoids the hassle of multi-state probate proceedings- in case trustees do not reside in the state that the grantor did
● Provides planning for mental disability- should the grantor ever not be sound of mind, they cannot amend the trust
● Keeps assets in the immediate family
● Keeps assets out of surviving children’s divorces
● Keeps money out of creditors’ reach

How can an elder law attorney help?

An elder law attorney can help you decide whether a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is right for you. A host of factors goes into the decision, such as the client’s available funds, relationship with intended beneficiaries, and timing. It is important to meet with a knowledgeable and experienced elder law attorney to assess which plan best achieves your goals and relieves any of your concerns.

For further Medicaid planning, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395 to receive the most highly qualified legal advice.

Understanding the Medicaid Look-Back Period and Penalty Period

If you need help with paying for healthcare costs and have low-income and limited resources, you might qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is a federal and state program that offers medical and health coverage for people with low incomes and limited assets who otherwise cannot afford paying for health care. In order to be eligible you must meet strict financial eligibility requirements both during the application process and after you have qualified.

medicaid look back penalty period

Financial Eligibility Requirements for Long-Term Care Medicaid 

Many low-income seniors find that their countable assets and/or income exceed the Medicaid restrictions in their state. They must carefully reduce or "spend down" extra funds on things like medical expenditures, house improvements, a prepaid funeral plan, and so on in order to meet the financial requirements. Gifting—giving away money or assets for less than market value—is not permitted as part of a Medicaid spend-down strategy.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) devised a system for analyzing all applicants' financial histories to prevent seniors from simply giving away all of their assets to family and friends and then depending on Medicaid to pay for their long-term care. The following sections review the ins and outs of the Medicaid look-back period, as well as what happens when a senior decides to transfer assets.

The Medicaid Look-Back Period

Medicaid only looks at applicants' previous financial information for a limited period of time. This is known as the Medicaid Look-Back Period. Each state's Medicaid program has slightly different eligibility standards, but most states look at all of a person's financial transactions five years back (60 months) from the date of their qualifying application for long-term care Medicaid benefits. (This timeframe is only 30 months in California.)

There is no difference between the number of gifts an applicant made and to whom the gifts were given during the Medicaid Look-Back Period—barring a few exceptions, which will be discussed later on. If a senior's money or assets changed hands for less than FMV in the five years leading up to their application date, they will incur a penalty period during which they are ineligible for Medicaid.

The Medicaid Penalty Period

If a senior files for Medicaid and is found to be otherwise eligible, but has gifted assets within the five-year look-back period, they will be prohibited from receiving benefits for a specified amount of months. This is known as the Medicaid Penalty Period and there is no limit to how long a penalty period can be. 

For example, if you write a check to a family member for $14,000 and apply for Medicaid long-term care within five years of the date on the check, then Medicaid will delay covering the cost of your care because you could have used that money to pay for it yourself. The penalty period begins running on the date a senior applies for Medicaid coverage, not the date on which they gifted the money.

The length of the penalty period is determined by the total amount of assets gifted by the applicant and their state's specific "penalty divisor," which is the average monthly cost of a long-term care facility in that state. (The divisors may be the averaged daily expenses in some jurisdictions, and several states even employ divisors that are particular to nursing home costs in individual counties.) These figures are published annually by each state’s Medicaid program.

Who Pays During Medicaid Penalty Periods?

When a senior requires care but has spent down all of their assets (inadvertently) and is no longer covered, one might wonder who pays for their care. If a senior has gifted countable assets during the look-back period and needs nursing home care, they will have to pay for it out of pocket until the look-back period is over and the senior can apply for Medicaid without difficulty, or until the penalty period expires and they are eligible for coverage.

Exemptions and Exceptions to Medicaid Gifting Rules 

Medicaid penalties do not apply to all gifts.

One exemption you may receive is a “child caregiver exemption” for transferring assets to a child who has taken care of you for at least two full years. For example, if your daughter's care allowed you to put off moving into a nursing home, then transferring your home into her name for less than fair market value would not be penalized. Even if a senior applies for Medicaid within five years after the transfer, the "child caregiver exemption" still applies.

Another exception to the rule is a gift (or the creation and funding of a trust) for a kid who is blind or disabled under the Social Security Administration's standards. No penalty will be imposed on such a gift, regardless of its size.

Finally, gifts between spouses are never subject to any penalties. There is no need to impose a penalty on such transactions because both spouses' entire assets are counted when one spouse applies for long-term care Medicaid.

Successfully applying for Medicaid is a complicated and difficult process, and is rarely something you do on your own. Mistakes can have long-term financial consequences for a family. If you or someone you know plans to apply for long-term care Medicaid, please contact the best elder lawyer who can guide you through the application process at the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact My Social Security and Medicaid Benefits?

Dealing with an injury that hinders your ability to work is hard enough. Many seek Social Security benefits to help ease the difficulty in times where they are injured but the process is intricate and can come with many hardships in order to receive these benefits. If you were injured in an accident, you are now also able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident. This can hinder your benefits that were already difficult to receive and though a settlement may seem nice in a situation like this, you depend on your social security benefits more. Situations like these may seem troublesome but you can seek out the help of a personal injury attorney as well as an elder law attorney as this overlap of your benefits and injury can be complicated. The personal injury attorney can help with a lawsuit for the accident but an elder law attorney has in-depth knowledge of the Social Security benefits and what will affect these benefits so you are not put at risk of losing them.

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact My Social Security and Medicaid Benefits?

How much liquid assets can you have for Medicaid and for SSI?

You may be worried about how much liquid assets you can have to be eligible for Medicaid and SSI which include cash, stocks, bonds, and CDs. In New York, In order to be eligible for Medicaid and SSI benefits, you can have up to $2,000 in liquid assets. If you have more, you won’t meet the requirements to receive these benefits, and if you are already receiving benefits, they may be compromised.This is something to keep in mind if you have Medicaid or SSI benefits and want to file for a personal injury lawsuit. Social Security doesn’t depend on work credits and is need-based so it depends on assets. If you receive a settlement for an accident, it can potentially put you over the asset threshold hindering your eligibility for your SSI benefits. It may seem unfair that your benefits may be suspended for receiving a no-fault settlement for your injury, but this is how the system works. These are a few things you should be aware of when deciding between a personal injury settlement or the benefits you need to meet ends meet.

2 Ways To Protect Your Settlement:

  1. A “spend down”: This option is when you spend a good amount of the settlement on resources that are exempt and needed for the benefit of the disabled recipient to ensure you are not over that asset threshold. This is a good option for those who want a simple way of using the settlement money but also helps them while ensuring they are still eligible for the benefits. Some exempt resources include household goods, personal effects, paying off your home mortgage, and paying off any existing debts. These are just a few items that are exempt from being counted as assets and your settlement fund can be used towards them to keep you under the asset threshold. 
  2. Set up a Special Needs Trust (SNT): This option is for those who don’t want to go through the trouble of spending the settlement fund but rather just set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a trust that is created for you to put your settlement money in and can be used for transportation, certain therapies, and nursing care without hindering your SSI or Medicaid benefits. This is good for those who want to use the funds to help recover from the accident without having to worry about their SSI benefits and Medicaid benefits being suspended, compromised or revoked. This trust can be set up with the help of an Elder Care attorney and will help make the process of protecting your settlement trouble-free. 

Both these options are great for those who are considering filing for a personal injury lawsuit, but do not want to risk losing their SSI and Medicaid benefits. You should make sure you proceed with either option that best fits your situation after obtaining a settlement for an accident when you are receiving these benefits. This will help reduce the risk of your benefits being suspended and protect your settlement. 

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney

An Elder Law attorney is informed of all current updates to the laws on Medicaid eligibility and SSI benefits eligibility. Unfortunately, Medicaid and SSI requirements can differ from state to state so it makes the process of applying and keeping your benefits even harder. An Elder Law attorney in your area will help simplify this process for you and advise you of all updates to the law and eligibility requirements creating fewer problems on this journey of Medicaid planning and other aspects surrounding Elder Law. Hiring an Elder Law attorney will also ensure that you're still eligible for your SSI and Medicaid benefits even if you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit. Protecting your settlement will be a priority and an attorney will help you choose the right option to ensure you can still receive your settlement fund without hindering your benefit eligibility.

For further information on how a personal injury settlement may affect your Medicaid and SSI benefits please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to obtain aid in options to protect your settlement fund and help with any of your Elder law needs.

How Can An Elder Law Attorney Help Me Get Approved for Medicaid?

There are many ways an elder care attorney can help you get approved for Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that covers medical payments, such as hospital care, physician services, and long-term care in nursing homes for individuals with financial need. Individuals of low socio-economic class are unable to cover the costs of medical care out of pocket and therefore rely on Medicaid for aid. Applying for Medicaid is a very difficult and lengthy process, as the questions being asked within the application have great depth and implications for your future. The foundation system responsible for asking the questions that define your eligibility for Medicaid purposely selects specific diction and word choice which may make it challenging for elderly individuals to effectively answer the questions. Answering these questions incorrectly or inaccurately could place your potential coverage in jeopardy, meaning you may not qualify for the aid you need to cover your medical costs. Considering that these questions are the main defining factor when it comes to obtaining Medicaid coverage, family members should seek guidance from an experienced Elder Law Attorney to guide them through this imperative process. The attorney is highly experienced and familiar with New York state’s rules when it comes to long-term care planning and receiving government benefits.The Elder Care Attorney will use her experience in the field to devise the most effective plan in assisting the family by selecting strategies that align with the family’s personal and financial circumstances.

An Elder Law Attorney Could Help you get Approved for Medicaid

Differences Between Medicaid and Medicare:

Medicaid and Medicare are often confused, as both provide medical coverage to individual applicants. However, there is a grand difference between both programs based on the qualifications and the services provided. Medicaid is directly managed by the state and federal government, which correlates with an individual's income to calculate their estimated extent of need. Medicaid covers low-income individual’s medical care regardless of their age. Medicare, on the contrary, typically applies to individuals over the age of 65, and in some cases covers the costs of medical bills for individuals with disabilities at any age. Medicare patients pay part of the costs through deductibles for hospital coverage and small monthly premiums for non-hospital coverage. Expenses that are not covered by Medicare will have to be paid out of pocket or with the help of a private long-term care insurance policy. 

Benefits of Medicaid Coverage:

New York Medicaid benefits pertain to regular examinations, immunizations, and doctor visits. Coverage also extends to medical supplies and equipment, lab exams, X-rays, dental, and vision. Medicaid is beneficial in regards to covering nursing home service payments, hospital stays, emergencies, and prescriptions. Medicaid coverage is extremely helpful for individuals who cannot afford to pay the costs of their medical healthcare independently. This is a great stress reliever and minimizes the pressure on loved ones who worry about paying for their own care or their family members’ care. New York state Medicaid covers essential dental services that are medically necessary, such as extractions to prevent disease. Medicaid will provide a reimbursement for eye examinations every two years and glasses when medically necessary. Medicaid may also cover the cost of contact lenses with prior authorization. Medicaid guarantees that medical professionals will select the most cost effective options when prescribing a patient’s medication, which in most cases is simply the generic brand. Medicaid may also provide reimbursements for over the counter products. New York Medicaid also provides emergency and non-emergency transportation services to beneficiaries. 

Medicaid Eligibility Requirements:

Medicaid eligibility depends on your household size and your earned income. An individual with assets and income that exceed the designated Medicaid requirements will not be eligible for coverage. This means that individuals entering nursing homes will be considered private pay residents and must continue to spend down until they become eligible for Medicaid coverage. There is a five year lookback period involved regarding any gift given to heirs,which may result in a Medicaid penalty or completely prevent you from meeting the qualifications of Medicaid coverage. This is established to prevent Medicaid applicants from transferring their large assets to their children and then claiming they have a financial need for coverage. The lookback period is exactly 60 months, which is five years from your application date. The applicant’s home is not considered as assets, but the estate pay be billed for services provided after the individual passes away. Vehicles, household contents, prepaid burial funds, and an IRA or 401(k) plan are all excluded from the asset calculation process that determines if you are eligible for Medicaid coverage. If the applicant is married, then both spouses’ income will be considered in the effort to grant coverage, even if only one spouse is in need of Medicaid. A spouse that will continue to reside in the home when the other spouse enters nursing home care will be able to keep half of the assets with some additional income for support services, as long as this amount meets the maximum quota.

Elder Law Attorney Assistance in Applying for Medicaid:

An experienced and esteemed Elder Law Attorney can assist you in the process of applying for Medicaid coverage in a variety of methods. One such method is guaranteed avoidance of potential penalties that you may have been unaware of had you decided to file for Medicaid without the help of a lawyer. There are numerous questions that seek to identify if the applicant has made any disqualifying transfers that would result in a penalty. The most common question that correlates to the Medicaid penalty prospect is the prompt asking if the applicant has made any gifts or transfers for less than fair market value within the last 5 years. If you hire an Elder Care Attorney, the lawyer will ensure that you do not have any penalties that would prevent you from obtaining the Medicaid benefits you deserve. The attorney will be well aware of any of the exceptions that will prevent you from earning a penalty and will therefore assist you in the process of qualifying for Medicaid. Hiring an Elder Care Attorney enhances the probability that your application is approved, therefore increasing your chances of obtaining Medicaid coverage. Additionally, another benefit to hiring an Elder Care Attorney to assist in filing for Medicaid coverage is the establishment of effective spend down plans. In order to qualify for Medicaid many married couples must participate in the Spend-Down process, which pertains to the prospects of saving assets when only one spouse needs Medicaid. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the individual in need of long-term care receives the aid they need, while also guaranteeing that their spouse has the financial means of remaining in their home and covering the cost of all their living expenses. An Elder Care Attorney may assist in creating a personal care agreement that enables the senior to provide monetary compensation towards their family caregiver, while also participating in the Spend-Down process. Additionally, the attorney can aid in renaming bank accounts and real estate titles in the effort to enhance the applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid. The attorney will use her experience in the field to answer any inquiries you may have regarding the application process and determining whether you and your loved ones qualify for coverage. 

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively complete the Medicaid Application.

6 Medicaid Planning Mistakes People Make

Medicaid is one of the largest medical insurance programs in the nation. This program is intended to assist low-income individuals who require financial needs in paying the costs of their healthcare. Medicaid is beneficial for seniors, disabled individuals, and those who are unable to simply cover medical care costs out of pocket. There are a variety of benefits to receiving Medicaid coverage, especially at a time when a loved one begins to age and needs additional help with their daily activities. A common fear among many elderly individuals is that they will not be able to afford long-term care and will have nobody to look after them in their time of need. Those familiar with nursing homes are aware of the massive price tag of $90,000 a year for care. Medicare will not cover these costs, thus it is important that individuals apply for Medicaid coverage prior to the need for long-term care arising. The same financial issue is present when elderly individuals attempt to pay for the costs of in-home care out of pocket. In most cases, it is unlikely that a family will be able to afford more than a year of care without Medicaid if they are in the low or middle class. Applying for Medicaid will minimize the pressure of having to pay the entire cost of care, thus it is recommended that you and your loved ones reach out to an Elder Law Attorney to begin your Medicaid Planning journey in advance. The attorney will guarantee that you are aware of the common mistakes and traps associated with independently Medicaid Planning without the guidance of an experienced attorney.

6 Medicaid Planning Mistakes People Make

Applying for Medicaid can be a challenging and complex process as previously mentioned, and without the knowledge of a professional, many mistakes can be made that could compromise your eligibility.

Top 6 Medicaid Planning Mistakes: 

  1. Applying for Medicaid too Early: The consequences of applying for Medicaid coverage too early includes a longer ineligibility period and spending much more money than if you applied at the appropriate time. You should wait to apply until you are certain that you meet all of the criteria and requirements. For example: If you made a generous gift to a loved one four years ago, you should wait for the five year lookback period to finish prior to applying for coverage. If you do not wait the designated amount of time, you risk being rejected for Medicaid coverage and having to pay the costs out of pocket for a longer period of time. Consult with an Elder Care attorney to discover the most appropriate time to apply for medicaid to ensure that you are granted coverage. 
  2. Applying for Medicaid too Late: It is common for individuals to procrastinate on applying for coverage and only apply when medical care is an absolute necessity. If you apply too late you are missing out on months of eligibility. This means that you are most likely using assets you have saved for your spouse or children on medical costs. Applying at an earlier period in time could make all the difference when it comes down to spending your entire life savings on medical costs. For example: If you needed Medicaid to cover your nursing home costs in July, but only filed your application in December, you will not receive full coverage to cover the costs of care. This would result in a massive financial burden on you and your family when it comes to covering the costs of the months that Medicaid will not cover because the application was filed too late. 
  3. Giving Away Assets too Early: Make sure that you consider all of the consequences of giving away your assets too early before giving your children the assets. Poorly planned gifts are the easiest way to jeopardize your Medicaid coverage. Medicaid will not apply for nursing home care for a certain number of months after giving a gift to your children because you will not meet the Medicaid eligibility qualifications. For example: If you give a gift to your children on Friday and then apply for Medicaid the following Monday, you will be rejected due to the Medicaid transfer penalty. Now you will need to get the money you gave your children back so that you can afford your medical costs. However, there is no guarantee that the money is readily available, as your children could have already spent it. Consult with an attorney to understand the five year lookback period prior to making a gift you may regret. 
  4. Thinking it is too Late to Plan: It is never too late to plan for your or your loved ones future. Even if your loved one is already enrolled in nursing home care, you may still apply for Medicaid in the effort to obtain coverage for at least some of the costs of care. Scheduling an appointment for a consultation with an experienced Elder Care Attorney is the first step to beginning your planning journey. The attorney will take the time to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have during the process. It is never too late to start thinking about your Medicaid planning process. 
  5. Ignoring Safe Harbors Created by Congress: There are specific transfers of assets that you may partake in without risking the loss or rejection of Medicaid coverage. These transfers include, but are not limited to transfers to disabled children, caregiver children, and certain siblings. Additionally, you are able to transfer assets into a regular trust in the case that you are disabled and under the age of 65. This would be considered a pay back trust and would not jeopardize potential Medicaid coverage. In the case that you have a disability and are over the age of 65, you can still place your assets in a trust, but this trust is called a pooled-disability trust. An Elder Care Attorney can provide you with more information on transferring your assets and different types of trust in relation to obtaining Medicaid coverage. 
  6. Not Consulting an Attorney: There is no greater mistake than choosing not to consult an attorney, as an attorney is trained and experienced in the field and can update you on any rules or regulations you are not familiar with. Hiring an attorney will reduce the stress of having to file for Medicaid independently, for the process is very difficult and time consuming. In most cases, the questions are very difficult to understand and there is a specific way of responding to the questions in the application. Without an attorney, you are much more likely to make mistakes in your application which could jeopardize your ability to receive coverage. Some mistakes cannot be fixed, so it is important to ask any questions you may have and inquire about the best way to fill out the application to demonstrate your financial need.

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively protect your assets from Medicaid.

Top 5 Strategies for Protecting Your Assets From Medicaid

Medicaid is a means-tested program that conditionally accepts applicants based on their income and current assets. According to Medicaid regulations, individuals must have less than $2,000 to qualify for coverage. Applying for Medicaid is quite a complex process, as the questions being asked within the application have great depth and implications for your future. The foundational system responsible for asking the questions that define your eligibility for Medicaid purposely selects specific diction and word choice which may make it challenging for elderly individuals to effectively answer the questions. Considering that these questions are the main defining factor when it comes to obtaining Medicaid coverage, family members should seek guidance from an experienced Elder Law Attorney to guide them through this imperative process. The attorney is quite familiar with your state’s rules when it comes to long-term care planning and receiving government benefits. An Elder Care Attorney will use her experience in the field to devise the most effective plan in assisting the family by selecting strategies that align with the family’s personal and financial circumstances. Below are the top 5 strategies suggested by an Elder Law Attorney regarding ways of protecting your assets from Medicaid.

Best Strategies for Protecting your Assets from Medicaid

1. Income Trusts

Income Trusts serve the purpose of protecting your assets and keeping your monetary income safe. This trust aids in maintaining the income limit set for all Medicaid applicants. Income Trusts are beneficial towards those applicants that exceed the qualifying amount. These trusts give the applicant an opportunity to designate a sub quantity of their income to a specific trust in order to refrain from exceeding the standard acceptable quantity. The Qualified Income Trusts are irrevocable meaning they cannot be changed or revoked. They serve as holding areas for the applicant’s excess income and protect this income from being taken by Medicaid. In states that allow applicants to spend down their excess income, these trusts are less effective, yet can still be utilized based on the applicant’s preference. In order to qualify for Medicaid many married couples must participate in the Spend-Down process, which pertains to the prospects of saving assets when only one spouse needs Medicaid. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the individual in need of long-term care receives the aid they need, while also guaranteeing that their spouse has the financial means of remaining in their home and covering the cost of all their living expenses. An Elder Care Attorney can assist you in establishing an Income Trust and answering any of your questions regarding the trust. 

2. Asset Protection Trust 

An Asset Protection Trust is a great way to preserve your assets when applying for Medicaid, as it allows you to maintain your wealth while still receiving coverage. This is helpful because a Medicaid applicant is only eligible for convergence if they meet the specified quantity of assets held within their account. Many individuals fall into the assumption that the best way to remove the additional assets that prevent them from getting Medicaid coverage is to transfer the assets to family members. This approach, however, is extremely flawed and risky because it often results in a Medicaid penalty. Incurring a penalty prevents you from receiving coverage for a specified period of time. A trust allows you to disperse these assets to the family members you had in mind at the time of creating a trust. The beneficiaries will not be subject to the payment of capital gains tax based on the increase in quantitative value your assets have accrued over time. It is important to note that transfers to a trust are still subject to the Medicaid Lookback period,which tends to include the last five years of your assets. This strategy is extremely effective when it comes to protecting your assets fromMedicaid, while still receiving the coverage you are in need of. An Elder Care Attorney can guide you through the process of creating an Asset Protection Trust based on your personalized extent of assets. 

3. Caregiver Agreement

A caregiver agreement is beneficial to individuals who require additional services that will not be included within the typical Medicaid coverage. This option is great for individuals who would prefer to be cared for by a family member or a trusted close friend. You would not only be cared for by an individual you already know and have a close relationship with, but you would also be benefitting the caregiver for their service. The caregiver will be paid for their duty in caring for you and you will receive the best care possible. In most cases the caregiver would be paid for their services in advance under a contract that defines the services provided and the hours being worked. In the case that the patient passes away all of the unearned funds must be paid to Medicaid in correlation to the amount that Medicaid paid for the patient’s care. A Caregiver Agreement can be the best option for numerous individuals who do not wish to leave home and go into the care of a nursing home, as they would still be able to maintain their full Medicaid coverage. An Elder Care Attorney can help you make the decision in selecting a caregiver you trust to take care of you. 

4. Medicaid Compliant Annuities and Promissory Notes

In many cases, individuals require urgent long-term care services, however they have recently conducted a transfer of assets or are still in possession of the assets that limit the income cap they require to qualify for Medicaid coverage. As of now, there is no possible method of removing these assets in time to qualify for coverage because any movement of the assets will result in a Medicaid penalty. The only options left to qualify for coverage under such short notice and with exceeding assets present would be to write an annuity or promissory note. This would serve as an insurance product that would payout the income. First, you would make an investment into the annuity. Then, the insurance provider would return your income by using a constant stream of income approach. The annuity has specific qualifications to ensure that Medicaid will approve of the strategy. The annuity must be fixed with all monthly payments being the same, while also being irrevocable. The annuity is unassignable meaning it cannot be transferred or sold to another individual. The payments on the annuity must be immediate in order to qualify for coverage. An Elder Care Attorney can further explain this strategy in describing the best course of action in selecting an annuity with qualifications that would make it possible for you to still qualify for Medicaid. 

5. Spousal Transfers and Spousal Refusal

According to current Medicaid laws, transfers may occur between spouses without being subject to the five year look-back period. The assets who are under the name of the spouse in need of care should be transferred to the name of the spouse who doesn't require care. The spouse who is not in need of care is typically referred to as the community spouse. With the presence of spousal refusal, the community spouse may refuse to provide necessary support to the spouse in need of care. If this is the case, then the spouse who is in need of care will immediately be provided Medicaid services to ensure that they are provided with all the care necessary. Medicaid may then require the community spouse to make contributions even though that spouse initially refused to provide the necessary support. The community spouse will still receive a benefit because the reimbursements to Medicaid will be at specified discounted rates. Spousal refusal is present in New York, however it may not be present in other states. Seeking legal advice from an Elder Care Attorney puts you and your loved ones in a good position to protect your assets from Medicaid. 

Reasoning Behind Asset Protection:

Asset protection from Medicaid is extremely important in the long run in regards to receiving long term coverage. Without taking the proper steps now to protect your assets, you may be unable to receive long term coverage, such as nursing home care. Long term care insurance provides coverage for nursing home care and at home coverage for individuals ages 65 and older with chronic conditions. There is nothing worse than running out of money when you need it most, so by taking the necessary steps to protect your assets today, you will avoid this problem when it becomes time to consider long term care. An Elder Care Attorney will guide you through the process of following all of the strategies above to save and protect your assets from Medicaid.

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively protect your assets from Medicaid.