Ring! Ring! Ring! Every January that is the familiar sound we hear as our phone rings off the hook with concerned adult children calling after they have spent the holidays with their aging parents and realize they are in need of more care. Planning for care needs becomes a necessity.
Plan to check in often
This year, our January phone calls have been different. Many of them have either been calls due to care needed after hospitalizations and other health crisis or New Year’s resolutions to update or create estate plans. We urge you to check on your aging loved ones frequently because the extended in-person time these seniors normally get to spend with their family was not experienced by many in 2020. It is harder to notice a decline in a person’s cognitive capacity or ability to care for themself with short phone or Zoom calls. It is more difficult to even realize if a person’s current living situation is no longer safe for them.
If you think your loved one is in need of additional care or you are worried that it is moving in that direction, we suggest you contact Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121. We can discuss your options and start Medicaid planning if that is appropriate. This process can help protect assets while maximizing the care that may be needed.
What is Medicaid and what services does it cover in Georgia?
Medicaid is federally mandated health care program for those over 65 or those that are blind or disabled and have low income and limited assets. Even though Medicaid is a federal program, Medicaid looks a little different in each state as far as what services it covers and what the income and asset limitations are. For example, in our home state of Georgia, Medicaid predominantly pays for long term care in a nursing home.
The Myth that Medicaid is Only for Poor People
Because the costs of long-term care for seniors and those with significant health issues continue to soar, most families simply cannot afford the cost of long-term care. Families do not have the income, or the assets, to pay for nursing home care for any meaningful period of time. Consequently, most families look to Medicaid to pay for nursing home care. In fact, Medicaid is the single largest payer source of nursing home care in the United States. This makes sense, as the average cost of nursing home care in Georgia is $8,517 per month . . . and climbing.
So, what does it really take to get eligible for Medicaid?
There are five basic requirements for nursing home Medicaid in Georgia. We already know that the first requirement is the person seeking Medicaid must be over 65, blind or disabled. Second, the person must also need nursing home level of care. This means that they are in need of assistance with at least two activities of daily living, commonly called ADLs. There are six basic ADLs: bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting and incontinence, transferring, and walking.
Third, the person must be institutionalized for at least 30 days. This means in the hospital, in the nursing home, or a combination of the two for a minimum of 30 days. For more information on when to apply for Medicaid, check out our blog here.
Fourth, the person’s gross income must not exceed $2,382 per month in 2021. If the person’s gross income is higher that $2,382 each month, they will need a Qualified Income Trust (QIT) to qualify for Medicaid. We will be talking more about QITs in our blog next week.
The fifth and final requirement for Medicaid is that the person’s assets must be below a certain limit. For a single person, the limit is $2,000; married couples can have $2,000 + $130,380 for a total of $132,380 in 2021.
Anyone with assets that exceed these amounts should consult with an experienced elder law attorney to talk about planning for care. Our attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law are here to take you through what Medicaid planning for your loved one would look like and our dedicated team can guide you every step of the way!