Medicaid Planning Attorneys in Hot Springs, Arkansas Helping Seniors Pay for Long-Term Care
One of the greatest worries seniors have as they get older is how they will afford long-term care if they need it. Nursing homes are expensive, and not everyone has the funds to pay out of pocket. In Arkansas, the average monthly cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $6,083 a month and $6,692 a month for a private room, according to the Genworth 2020 Cost of Care Survey. If memory care is needed due to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, that can add even more to those numbers. When families face these high costs and cannot afford them, they often hope to qualify for Medicaid, which is a government assistance program that can cover the cost of long-term care. Qualifying for Medicaid can be a labor-intensive and complicated process, however. Fortunately, the skilled Medicaid planning attorneys at Dudeck Law Firm have the skill and experience to help you through this complex process. Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to discuss your options.
What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?
Medicare is an insurance program available to those age 65 and over, regardless of income, as well as to certain disabled younger people and people who are blind or on dialysis. It covers medical care and requires the payment of small deductibles and small monthly premiums for non-hospital treatment. Medicare is administered by the federal government, so it is the same in all states. U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who have worked here for 10 years, or have a spouse who meets those criteria, are eligible for Medicare if they are 65 or older or younger and are disabled, blind, or on kidney dialysis. There is no income or asset limit to be eligible for Medicare.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is an entitlement program that is both federal and state-funded and that can differ from state to state in its requirements. The 2022 income limits in Arkansas are approximately $2,523/month (some exclusions apply) per person. The asset limits are $2000 for a single person and $3000 for a married couple. In Arkansas, Medicaid is available for those who qualify to pay for nursing home care, home and community-based services, and services for aged, blind and disabled people.
What if I Don’t Qualify for Medicaid but Cannot Afford Long-Term Care?
You may think that you do not qualify for Medicaid, but with careful planning and asset management, you may become eligible. There are several strategies available for reducing income and assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. For example, if one spouse needs long-term care but the other remains at home, the couple’s assets can be divided, giving each spouse half. Then, the spouse going into long-term care can “spend down” their assets, paying for things that are beneficial to them and to their family, until their assets have been reduced to a level that makes them eligible for Medicaid. In this way, the spouse at home is not left penniless after paying for their loved one’s long-term care. It is important to note that the home is exempt from the division of assets and from Medicaid eligibility calculations as long as one spouse or an adult disabled child is living in it.
Even if you have applied for Medicaid and were denied, do not despair. Our Medicaid planning attorneys can be of help.
Is There Advance Planning That Can Help Us Qualify for Medicaid When We Need It?
There is a 5-year “look-back” period for Medicaid eligibility. What this means is that it is best to implement a Medicaid planning strategy at least 5 years before you expect to apply for Medicaid. Of course, none of us knows exactly when we might need long-term care, so the earlier you begin Medicaid planning, the better. That is not to say that there is nothing you can do if you have not planned 5 years in advance—only that there are advantages to doing so. One strategy that can be used to reduce the size of your estate if you act at least 5 years before applying for Medicaid is to pass money or assets to your heirs, who would likely inherit them eventually, anyway. This can be done through gifts or various kinds of trusts. There are other trusts; however, that will not require the 5-year lead time to be helpful.
Medicaid determines eligibility by dividing assets into countable resources and non-countable resources. The non-countable resources have no effect on eligibility, while the countable resources after a certain point prevent the person from receiving benefits. Some assets you are likely to have are already considered uncountable, like a home, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or another type of qualified retirement account (401k, 403b, Thrift Savings Plan, and others). In some cases, it may be possible to restructure your assets to move countable assets into instruments that are non-countable, thus helping you qualify for Medicaid.
Sound complicated? It is. That’s why you need the help of an experienced Medicaid planning lawyer.
Why Should I Hire Dudeck Law Firm for My Medicaid Planning Needs?
At Dudeck Law Firm, the focus of our practice is estate planning and elder law. Medicaid planning is a big part of what we do, and our Medicaid planning lawyers bring all of their experience and skill to every client in every situation. Don’t try to navigate the choppy waters of Medicaid planning and application by yourselves. We deal with Medicaid issues nearly every day, and we can help. Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 for the experienced professional help you need.