It is becoming very common for nursing homes to want to help their residents start the Medicaid filing process by filing an application for Medicaid benefits. They are trying to help you and protect themselves from an extended period of a resident being unable to pay their bill. However, doing so can have a serious detrimental impact for the resident and his or her family.
We have seen a number of clients who have made prior gifts inside the five-year lookback period who would face serious consequences if an application was filed without other planning. Likewise, married residents can sometimes benefit from a delay in the application filing. Once the application is filed, it cannot be undone, the planning options may become more limited, and potential penalties (if they exist) may no longer be avoidable.
Medicaid planning offers a number of ways to protect assets for a nursing home resident, their spouse, or family. Even after nursing home admission (yes, even inside the five-year lookback period), there are still options for planning and saving money. A mistimed Medicaid application can eliminate those options and leave the applicant in a very bad circumstance.
If you or a loved one are residing in a nursing home or preparing to move in, you should strongly consider instructing the nursing home (in writing) to delay filing the application until you have spoken with an attorney who understands Medicaid and can explain Medicaid planning options. You should also closely review nursing home admission documents that may include an authorization for the filing of the application. Then, you should immediately contact us to get your Medicaid questions answered.
If your nursing home has already filed the application, don’t give up. You may still be able to do something. While the filing causes problems in some situations, many people still have planning options. Contact us to see what those options are. Remember, it is always safest to have your Medicaid application process occur with the assistance of an elder law attorney.