Many aging adults require a stay in a nursing home at some point in their later years. Coping with the high cost of even a short stay creates emotional and financial strain for both the elder and their family. Anticipating these needs in advance can reduce the strain and even avoid financially catastrophic results. Nursing home care planning also can protect your assets.
Most adults over age 65 have Medicare coverage. Those benefits cover rehabilitation costs, but they do not cover long-term care or nursing home care. The only exception is that Medicare will pay for the first 20 days in a nursing home under specific circumstances. Certain supplemental plans may pay for up to 100 days under even more limited circumstances.
Medicaid is a completely separate and different program that may cover nursing home costs. But to receive the coverage, an individual must apply and meet eligibility requirements.
Medicaid rules and regulations are complicated. There are strict eligibility requirements for both income and assets. Many elders do not realize that there are tools available that can be used to meet the eligibility limits and protect their assets. However, taking full advantage of those tools requires advance planning. If you wait until the need for care is immediate, you may lose benefits or be unable to meet the eligibility requirements immediately.
Medicaid rules are not the same in all states. If you live in Georgia, it is important to talk with a Medicaid planning attorney who knows the Georgia rules.
Even if you think you are over the Medicaid income or assets limits, you may be able to qualify for benefits. In Georgia, a special trust called a Miller Trust (or Qualified Income Trust) may enable you to meet the income requirement.
To protect assets, planning at least five years ahead is the best strategy. Medicaid eligibility uses a five-year “look back” period. If you work with a knowledgeable attorney at least five years before you expect to need nursing home care, it usually is possible to protect most of your assets.
In other words, it is never too early to start planning for the care you will need in your later years. However, even if you are not able to plan that far ahead, talking with a Medicaid planning attorney is the best way to find strategies to protect your financial assets.
To get help with nursing home care planning, you should talk with an attorney who specifically works with clients on Medicaid matters as well as nursing home care planning. Both areas require specialized knowledge about benefit programs and the rules and regulations that apply. Your lawyer also can ascertain whether other public benefits may be available to you and your spouse.
In our Cartersville elder law practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help elders and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Medicaid planning and nursing home planning are essential parts of our services. If you have questions about nursing home care planning and Medicaid, we can answer all your questions and help you make the right decisions.
We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.