Under the rules of the Medicaid program, most of the income that is due to the institutionalized spouse must be used to help defray their long-term care costs. However, there are ways to protect assets for the healthy spouse, so discuss your options with our Charlotte Medicaid lawyers.
If your spouse is applying for Medicaid to pay for long-term care and you are still living at home, you are referred to as the community spouse. There are specific provisions in place to provide minimal protections for the community spouse. Because of the asset and income limits, one of them is the monthly maintenance needs allowance. The monthly maintenance needs allowance is determined by the government and is defined as the minimum income the community spouse is entitled to each month.
Medicare benefits will not cover all of your nursing home costs
This is a logical rationale, and in fact, Medicare will provide you with very sound healthcare coverage. However, there is a very big potential expense that Medicare will not cover. The Medicare program will pay for up to 100 days of convalescent care after surgery, but it will not pay for custodial care. This is the type of care that you would receive if you were to reside in a nursing home.
Nursing homes are extremely expensive all around the country. People often spend multiple years receiving care, with the average being just over two years, according to recent government survey. Medicaid will help pay for long-term care, and this is why many people who were never financially needy find that the program is relevant to them, at some point in time.
How do Medicaid benefits work?
The Medicaid program is a health insurance program that is jointly administered by the federal government along with each respective state government. Most people are aware of the fact that Medicaid is in place to help people who have very limited resources. If you work throughout your life, you earn retirement credits, and you will qualify for Medicare when you reach the age of 65. This can lead to the belief that all of your health care needs will be covered when you obtain Medicare eligibility. That may not be the case, as our Charlotte Medicaid lawyers understand.
Why is nursing home planning important?
When you are budgeting for the future, you should certainly be aware of potential long-term care costs. It can be hard to wrap your head around a time when you will no longer be able to handle all of your own day-to-day needs. However, statisticians tell us that most American seniors will eventually require living assistance. Long-term care is very expensive. For many, Medicaid is the solution, because Medicare won’t pay for long-term care.
When applying for acceptance into the Medicaid program, the government looks at all of your assets and income. But, everything you own does not count toward your income limit, while Medicaid is evaluating your eligibility. People typically qualify for Medicaid through a Medicaid spend down. You intentionally divest yourself of assets in advance of applying for the program. There may be ways to keep some of the assets you spent a lifetime earning. It is worth your time to seek the advise of an attorney, when you are applying for coverage under Medicaid.
The Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance
Since Medicaid is intended for people with financial need, there is a $2000 limit on countable assets. However, if you are married, your spouse is entitled to a Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This allowance is equal to half of the countable assets that are shared by the couple in question. There is also a minimum Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This is the amount that the healthy spouse can keep, even if it is more than half of the shared countable assets.
The Medicaid Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance
If the community spouse is relying on this income to maintain a minimal standard of living, the community spouse may be entitled to a monthly maintenance needs allowance. Income that would have otherwise gone toward the cost of care can be retained by the healthy spouse. Nursing home expenses can easily exhaust your life savings if you do not have some type of plan in place. Medicaid pays for most of the long-term care that is received by seniors, so it is a viable solution for many.
The Medicaid program is jointly administered by each respective state along with the federal government. There are federal guidelines, but each state has some latitude with regard to the exact way that the program is implemented. When you recognize the fact that it is likely that you will need long-term care at some point in time, you will invariably have concerns. Do not hesitate to discuss these concerns with one of our Charlotte Medicaid lawyers.
Join us for a free seminar today! If you have questions regarding various Medicaid benefits or any other Medicaid planning matters, please contact the attorneys at The Potter Law Firm for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (704) 944-3245 in Charlotte or Huntersville, North Carolina, or for individuals in Kentucky at (606) 324-5516 (Ashland, KY) or at (859) 372-6655 (Florence, KY).
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