Wondering About Medicaid (Medi-Cal) Eligibility?
Long-term care is a big concern for many older adults. And while various long-term care insurance options exist, Medicaid is still one of the most crucial for many. But navigating Medicaid has proven to be confusing and complicated, so how do you know how to qualify for benefits? Before you dive into the process yourself, here are some things to consider when looking for an expert to help you.
- How do you qualify for Medicaid? Consulting with an attorney who is an expert at navigating the Medicaid process will be well worth the investment. Every aspect of your income and assets will be used to determine your eligibility, but the line items aren’t cut and dry. For example, it can be very difficult to determine which are qualifying assets and which are not.
- What happens with your assets before qualification? Many people falsely believe that they can hide their assets before needing to acquire Medicaid. The most important thing to know about the application process is that Medicaid can review your finances using a five year “look back” period (2.5 years in California). This means that if you spend time right before applying moving your assets to family members, you be disqualifying yourself.
- What about gifts and eligibility? Another question people often have is about using a gift designation to move assets. The IRS allows for individuals to make gifts up to $14,000 per year and exclude these from taxes. However, it is a separate issue and does not apply to Medicaid’s process for applying.
- What is an exempt asset? Treating almost anything that is non-exempt as a gift to avoid showing the value in your review is tantamount to Medicaid fraud. This is something you want to avoid more than trying to reduce your assets in the first place. However, there are some assets considered exempt. This is why it is often best to consult with an expert before deciding how to handle finances and your application process.
- How are penalties calculated for asset transfers? There will be some cases where transferring assets will be the most advantageous for you, but it will come with a price. Each state has established a “penalty divisor” for transferring the assets that exceed the program limit. This number is determined by the cost of nursing home care in your state, so it can change regularly.
Are you concerned about your assets and how to qualify for Medicaid? Contact us today to learn how we can help you navigate the complicated process of applying for benefits as you age.