Most people should sign up for Medicare when they reach 65; if they wait until later, they have to pay a significant penalty when they do sign up. There’s an exception, though, for people who are still employed at age 65 and are covered by a group health plan. These people can delay signing up for Medicare without a penalty. [Read more…]
Applying for MassHealth: Is the No-Cost Solution Really “No-Cost”?
Medicaid, or MassHealth as it is referred to in Massachusetts, is an avenue available for funding long-term nursing home care. To qualify, you must meet asset thresholds that many elders exceed. Additionally there are income requirements for MassHealth/Mediciad. Adequate understanding of MassHealth/Medicaid law and proper strategizing is a critical component of any plan for the future. With the proper planning of an elder-law attorney, you can protect your property, spouse, and assets. [Read more…]
What Do You Mean Medicare Won’t Pay for Dad’s Nursing Home Stay?!
A three-day hospitalization often serves as a gateway for a senior citizen’s transition into a skilled care facility. When the patient is discharged to a skilled care facility for occupational, physical, or speech therapy, the patient’s health insurance (Medicare) will continue to finance treatment for up to 100 days per stay (as long as the person continues to benefit from rehab). Medicare coverage ultimately ends, and when it does, the patient must pay from income, savings, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or a combination of these resources. [Read more…]
Estate Planning Myths Explained
Occasionally, I run across a great article written by someone else. Today is one of those days and I just had to share it with you. Clients are often confused when they come in for initial consultations and have preconceived notions about planning their estates based on things that they’ve heard from their friends, neighbors, hairdresser, etc. Most of the time the information shared is incorrect, or at least incorrectly applied to their situation. This article does a great job of debunking the most popular “myths” of estate planning. I only added one little thought in bold below. Thank you to my colleague, Attorney Gina Barry, from Bacon & Wilson in Springfield for putting this article together…. and as far as I know unicorns are still mythical creatures. [Read more…]
When it Could be OK to Give Assets Away When Planning for Long Term Care (Nursing Home)
Not long ago, I posted a blog on gift transfers and their affect on qualification for MassHealth (Medicaid) for an institutionalized individual. Generally, transferring assets to dispose of property so that you qualify for MassHealth will not actually help you qualify because the state imposes a five-year “look-back” period, in which those assets are counted and used to assess eligibility for MassHealth. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to the general rule. [Read more…]
No, You Can’t Just Give It Away! The Dangers of Gifting When Considering Long Term Care
Hardly a day goes by when I don’t have a client who tells me that they can give away a certain amount of money free and clear, avoiding look-back periods for long-term care planning. They inform me that their neighbor, friend, or cousin told them that this is allowable. I then have the unfortunate task of telling them that they are wrong and that most states that have enacted the Deficit Reduction Act. After February 8, 2006, the rules relative to gifts changed.
Regardless of the amount, any gift that is made is a transfer and is subject to a look-back period of five-years for MassHealth (Medicaid) purposes. This doesn’t mean that the State will take that money, but rather, that the State will not pay for the donor’s long-term care costs until the five-year look-back is exhausted, or in the alternative, until all the gifts that have been transferred are used to pay for the institutionalized person’s care. [Read more…]
Proposed Massachusetts Legislation Could Change the Way Assets are Counted for MassHealth
How often do you feel like you know what your state legislators are doing? The whole process can be mysterious and confusing. This week I would like to shed some light on the subject and tell you about a potentially helpful piece of legislation currently pending in the Massachusetts state legislature.
The proposed law would change the way assets are counted when determining whether a spouse in a nursing home, or certain other institutions and community based programs, is eligible for medical assistance through MassHealth (Medicaid). For MassHealth purposes, the spouse in the nursing home is called the “institutionalized spouse” and the spouse still living at home is referred to as the “community spouse.” Currently, under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 118E, subsection 21A, many different types of income and asset types of both spouses are considered countable for purposes of determining eligibility. The total amount of countable income and assets are major factors the Division of Medical Assistance takes into account when determining if the institutionalized spouse is eligible for medical assistance from the Commonwealth (MassHealth/Medicaid). [Read more…]
MassHealth to Update Regs to Include Same-Sex Marriage Language
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance, commonly known as MassHealth is making a much overdue amendment to their existing regulations. Finally same-sex marriages, which have been recognized in the Commonwealth since late 2003, will be officially recognized by MassHealth. Governor Deval Patrick also signed the MassHealth Equality Bill nearly one year ago.
So what does this mean to spouses in same-sex marriages? They can now receive the same benefits as heterosexual marriages when applying for MassHealth for longterm care, meaning their assets can be considered jointly for eligibility purposes and MassHealth will also not penalize transfers between spouses in same-sex situations, as they currently do for traditional marriages. The definition of “family member” is also slated to be amended under the change. [Read more…]