Medicaid Spend Down Rules
The rules for Medicaid spend down are widely misunderstood, and many seniors have received poor advice regarding the level of assets allowable in order to receive nursing home care funded by Medicaid. In other words, if a potential Medicaid recipient has worked hard their entire life in order to save for retirement, ending up with $200,000 in the bank, it is simply not true that those funds must be paid out monthly to the nursing home until the account is empty in order to qualify for Medicaid. Florida elder care attorneys are specifically trained regarding the complex Medicaid rules as well as other issues regarding senior trusts and estate planning. A knowledgeable Florida attorney can help seniors with preplanning techniques which will protect their hard-earned assets. In fact, early—and wise—planning can largely circumvent the Medicaid transfer look back period entirely.
Protecting Your Savings
You are not required to give away all of your assets in order to qualify for nursing home care under the Medicaid program. There are many ways to protect your savings through spending them on assets which are considered non-countable including: prepayment of expenses related to the potential recipient’s funeral, using savings to pay off your home mortgage, repairing necessary items in your home, replacing an older vehicle with a newer one, updating the household items and furnishing in your home, paying for extended levels of home care or even purchasing a new home.
Who Qualifies for Medicaid Spend Down?
The spend down program is primarily a benefit for those who are above the asset limit which would enable them to receive nursing home Medicaid benefits, yet still need financial assistance. Those potential Medicaid recipients who suffer under extremely high medical expenses which significantly reduce their usable incomes may also qualify for the Medicaid spend down program. It may be required that you produce receipts and bills related to these expenses so it’s important that you keep comprehensive records. During each period when your medical expenses meet your spend-down amount, Medicaid will grant you coverage; should you not qualify for a specific time period, you are still able to receive Medicaid nursing home coverage at a later date when you do meet the spend down amount.
Alternatives to Medicaid Spend Down
The spend down requirements are of major concern to many seniors as they fear that in order to spend down their assets to a level where Medicaid will pay for their nursing home expenses they will leave their healthy spouse with few assets to live on. There are several methods of avoiding the Medicaid spend down rules, however since every senior’s financial and familial situation is unique, getting solid legal advice is of utmost importance.
One possible way to avoid Medicaid’s spend down rule is through transferring certain assets to loved ones at fair market value. Bear in mind that gifting assets rather than using a trust will cause you to incur taxes. Possibly the best, safest manner of preparing for the possibility of entering a nursing home is to have a qualified elder attorney prepare an Irrevocable Trust for you. Such a trust transfers all your assets out of your own hands into that of the trust meaning that in the eyes of Medicaid you no longer own any assets. Using an Irrevocable Trust preserves your assets for your loved ones and allows you to qualify for nursing home Medicaid.
Planning Ahead is Imperative
Although none of us want to think about a time when we will be forced to go into a nursing home, unfortunately statistics prove otherwise. As of 2008 there were nearly 17,000 nursing facilities in the United States, housing nearly two million beds. At any given time there are over a million and a half residents in nursing homes, a figure which is expected to rise sharply due to the aging baby boomer generation. Don’t leave your future to chance—spend some time with a qualified elder law attorney in Florida and prepare for whatever your life may bring.
Let us help you determine the best Medicaid Planning strategy that will work for your particular situation. We offer a FREE initial consultation that will answer many of the additional questions not covered here on our web site. Call us in Jacksonville at (904) 900-2750 or toll free anywhere in Florida at 1-866-306-3550, or you can fill in and submit the form below.