Do You Need a Lawyer to Get Medicaid for Nursing Home Care in Georgia?

Folder with paper text MEDICAID , on a table with a stethoscope and medical masks.

Many seniors eventually need nursing home care — and the cost can be astronomical. Fortunately, Medicaid may cover some or all of the costs. But getting Medicaid is not automatic, nor does everyone qualify. While you are not required to have a lawyer when you apply for Medicaid, getting help from a Medicaid planning attorney before you apply can make the difference between qualifying and being ineligible for benefits. At Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we understand the Medicaid program and eligibility requirements and work with you to navigate the complicated application process.

What Is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program administered by the State of Georgia that pays some or all of the nursing home costs for eligible individuals. Enrollment in Medicaid is not automatic. You must apply and be approved to receive nursing home benefits.

The Medicaid application process is very complex and confusing. The program is needs-based, which means you must meet strict income and asset guidelines. In Georgia, the complicated rules of the program also provide strategies and tools that can help an individual meet the eligibility requirements, even when it may appear that their assets and income exceed the limitations.

Taking advantage of the available tools to qualify requires professional assistance, because of the intricacies of the applicable rules. Getting the necessary help is a process referred to as Medicaid planning. By engaging in the planning process before applying, a senior may become eligible, even though they initially think they are ineligible.

The convoluted rules for Medicaid make it advantageous to go through Medicaid planning with a professional as far in advance as possible. You should never take steps on your own to try to qualify. Doing so may actually delay your eligibility and make it more difficult to qualify.

Many seniors have the mistaken belief that Medicare will pay for long-term care and nursing home costs. While Medicare does cover many health care costs for individuals over the age of 65, it does not cover long-term care costs. Georgia Medicaid is the only program that may provide long-term benefits for many seniors. Qualifying veterans and their widows may also get assistance through VA benefits. Your Medicaid planning lawyer assists with determining benefits under VA programs.

Benefits of Medicaid Planning

Getting help from a Medicaid planning lawyer provides benefits beyond getting coverage for part or all of your long-term nursing home costs that you otherwise would have to pay yourself. You may also be able to protect and preserve assets by taking advantage of the special tools permitted by Medicaid rules and regulations. For example, an important concern that seniors often have is protecting their home before they enter a nursing facility. In many situations, Medicaid planning with a professional can help you accomplish that goal.

When Should You Contact a Medicaid Planning Attorney?

The best time to plan for long-term and nursing home costs — whether or not Medicaid is part of your planning — is before you actually need the services. The farther ahead you plan, the more likely it is that you can protect and preserve assets to the maximum possible extent.

For seniors who anticipate utilizing Medicaid benefits, the five-year look-back rule makes it very important to plan at least five years before you may need to use the benefits. Getting professional help is also critical. If you attempt to self-qualify, you must navigate the risks and pitfalls present in the complex Medicaid rules, which treat many types of assets in special ways when determining eligibility for nursing home benefits under the program. Your own unique circumstances and assets must be taken into account in Medicaid planning.

If you are a senior concerned about whether you will be able to afford long-term care and nursing home costs, it’s never too soon to talk with a Medicaid planning attorney. If you are married, the planning process takes into account both your needs and those of your spouse, to maximize your ability to receive benefits and to protect and preserve your assets.

Talk With Our Georgia Medicaid Planning Attorneys

In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help seniors and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Nursing home planning and Medicaid planning are an important part of our services. If you need to plan for Medicaid, nursing home care, and other long-term needs for yourself or a loved one, 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.

Categories: Elder Law, Medicaid