Question

Will New York State take my home and my other assets before I can qualify for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home or home care?

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Answer

The greatest concern expressed by my clients is whether or not they will outlive their money, particularly when it comes to paying for nursing home care. Many times they are under the misconception that their regular coverage, such as Medicare, will pay for long-term care at home or in a facility. Although Medicare and other health insurance will often pay for limited stays at a facility for skilled needs or rehabilitation, they will not pay for permanent long-term care. The only private insurance that pays for such care is long-term care insurance, which very few people have acquired, either because of its expense, or because they were denied the coverage due to their health histories.

The only insurance that pays for such long-term care is Medicaid. In NY, an applicant for Medicaid cannot own more than $14,400.00 in assets (bank accounts, annuities, cash value of life insurance policies, etc.), and, if being cared for at home, keep approximately $800.00 of monthly income. If the Medicaid recipient is at home, the home is not counted. If the Medicaid recipient is in a nursing home, all of his or her income, except for a $50.00 per month allowance, is required to be contributed to his or her care. Often, the conclusion that nursing home care, or 24-hour home care is necessary, is presented suddenly to the patient and/or family, before a hospital discharge. If the patient is in a hospital, discharge planning to a facility or home is done within a 48-hour period, giving the family very little time to explore options, or even knowledge as to the quality of nursing homes or care agencies.

Families are usually under the misconception that these medical providers are obligated to inform them of ways to qualify for Medicaid. The reality is that such information is considered legal advice and cannot be disseminated by the facilities or doctors. It is imperative either before such an event, or prior, to seek the advice of an elder law attorney. NY offers many options in order to qualify patients for Medicaid. If the person in need of care has a spouse or a dependent or disabled child, virtually all assets can be preserved, and income maximized to assist the household.

Even in situations where the Medicaid applicant has no spouse and has not done any planning, with the assistance of an elder law attorney, it is still possible to preserve assets to enhance the quality of the patient's life and to leave assets to beneficiaries.   

Answered 10/28/2013

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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