I want to look at the case we mentioned last week again:
Sarah applied for Medicaid on behalf of her father, Don. Don owned a home that he placed in an irrevocable trust in 2014. When he first moved to the nursing home, he had about $85,000 in his checking account and a few certificates of deposit. Sarah dutifully paid the $7,800 nursing home bill every month out of his income and the $85,000 in the bank. She did this until his bank balance was down to $2,000 because that’s what she was told she had to do before Don would qualify for Medicaid by a volunteer at the Area Agency on Aging. Sarah then got a copy of the Georgia Medicaid application online, filled it out, and submitted it to DFCS.
In this case, Sarah applied for Medicaid once her father’s assets had been spent down to below the $2,000 asset limit. It is commonly believed that a person can only apply for Medicaid once they have spent down their assets just like in Don’s situation. Could this have been handled differently? Are their other options? If Sarah had consulted with an elder law attorney when she first realized that her dad needed long-term care in a nursing home, the elder law attorney could have provided her and her father with a variety of options. We already know from the blog post last week that the irrevocable trust is problematic and resulted in a lengthy penalty period. The elder law attorney could have created a plan to eliminate the penalty period, preserve the house and help Don reach eligibility status for Medicaid. Additionally, if help had been sought at the beginning of this process, about half of Don’s $85,000 could have been preserved. So when should you apply for Medicaid? Medicaid should be considered as soon as a person moves into a nursing home for long-term care. Consulting with an experienced elder law attorney to guide you through the options at the beginning of the process will result in better options and better outcomes. If you have any questions about Medicaid eligibility, please call our office for a complimentary phone consultation at 404-843-0121.