Will I Lose my Home? Understanding Medicaid Estate Recovery

One of the most common questions our elder law firm hears when discussing Medicaid long-term care programs is “will I lose my home”? Families have heard the term ‘Medicaid Estate Recovery’ and are concerned because to most of us, our house is our most meaningful asset both emotionally and financially. Understanding Medicaid Estate Recovery can help you plan for future long-term care needs.

Medicaid Estate Recovery was implemented in Georgia on May 3, 2006. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Unit attempts to collect funds that were paid for a Medicaid recipient’s care after their death.  Many individuals need Medicaid to help pay for care but are afraid they will lose their family home or have insufficient funds to bury their loved one. There is a lot of misinformation about Medicaid Estate Recovery, so we wanted to dispel some rumors and explain the Estate Recovery program.

Medicaid Estate Recovery is pursued in the following situations:

  • The Medicaid recipient’s total estate is valued at $25,000 or more.
  • Medicaid members who, at any age, are in a nursing facility, intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded, or other mental institution that have their medical care paid by Medicaid.
  • Medicaid members who are 55 years of age or older and who receive home and community-based services or are enrolled in and receive services through a waiver program.
  • Currently active Medicaid recipients (including SSI recipients) who are not disenrolled from institutionalized Medicaid for Nursing Home, CCSP/Source, NOW/COMP, ICWP, Hospice, Institutionalized Hospice by May 3, 2006.
  • A Medicaid recipient who disenrolls to avoid Estate Recovery and subsequently reapplies for Medicaid under one of the above COAs, will have Estate Recovery pursued back to date of first Medicaid eligibility or May 03, 2006, whichever is later.

Assets that are part of the Medicaid recipient’s estate are subject to estate recovery. This may include any real property, including the homeplace property. If the Medicaid recipient’s estate is valued below $25,000, the recipient’s estate will receive an exemption from Medicaid Estate Recovery.

Medicaid Estate Recovery may be delayed under certain circumstances.

Recovery may be delayed if the deceased Medicaid recipient has any of the following:

  • A surviving spouse,
  • A child who is under 21 years of age (for the delay to continue past age 21, the child must have become disabled prior to reaching age 21)
  • A child who is blind or permanently and totally disabled according to Social Security guidelines
  • A sibling of the Medicaid recipient who was residing in the Medicaid recipient’s home for a least one year immediately prior to the date of institutionalization, and who provided care that delayed the Medicaid recipient’s institutionalization
  • A child of the Medicaid recipient who was residing in the recipient’s home at least two years immediately prior to the date of institutionalization, and who provided care that delayed the Medicaid recipient’s institutionalization

Does this sound confusing? Experienced elder law attorneys, who focus their practice on Medicaid policies and procedures, can review your situation and determine if you meet any of the qualifications for delay of recovery or total exemption. We are here to lend a helping hand to this often-exhausting process.

There are ways to protect your assets prior to the death of a Medicaid applicant or recipient.

If your loved one will be applying for Medicaid or has been receiving Medicaid and has assets that may be subject to estate recovery, it is a wise to seek the guidance of a Hurley Elder Care Law attorney to discuss options that may help you to protect your assets. These strategies must be executed carefully to avoid mistakes and potential Medicaid penalties which can cost you money and time. Contact Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121.

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