As elder law attorneys, we are very concerned about the challenges that senior citizens are facing during our current era. Alzheimer’s disease is at the top of the list.
Just about everyone has some understanding of the disease, but when you dig into the subject, some of the facts that you uncover are surprising. If you are concerned about your future or the future of an aging family member, you may want to become involved with the Alzheimer’s Association.
At minimum, you can visit the web page of the Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to obtain some general information. If you decide that you would like to take things a step further, they offer volunteer opportunities, and this would be a meaningful way to spent time and energy if you have the availability.
Alzheimer’s and Long-Term Care Costs
Clearly, many people with Alzheimer’s disease are eventually going to require nursing home care. Since Medicare will not pay for long-term care, Medicaid is the solution of choice for a significant percentage senior citizens.
Medicaid is jointly administered by each state government along with the federal government. This program is only available to people with significant financial need. In spite of this, many people who were never financially needy ultimately take steps that lead to Medicaid eligibility.
To get a true feel for the magnitude of the equation, you have to understand the current state of long-term care costs. Here in the greater Hartford area, long-term care is more expensive than it is in many parts of the country.
A well researched study has been conducted by Genworth Financial, and they have compiled statistics for each major metropolitan area. In Hartford, the median annual cost for a private room in 2015 was a whopping $160,600. A semi private room would run you almost $149,000 a year.
Qualifying for Medicaid
There is a Medicaid asset limit of $2000 for an individual, and this is clearly a very small number. However, there are some things that you may own that are not counted. One vehicle that is used as a primary source of transportation is not counted, and your wedding ring, your engagement ring, and your heirloom jewelry would not be counted either.
Unlimited term life insurance is allowed, and you can have a whole life insurance policy valued at up to $1500. The same amount can be set aside for burial expenses. Your personal belongings and household effects are not countable assets.
The most significant thing that you can keep is your home. You can obtain eligibility even if you retain ownership of your home, but there is an equity limit. During the current calendar year, the home equity limit in the state of Connecticut is $828,000.
However, if your spouse is going to remain in the home as you enter a long-term care facility, there would be no equity limit at all.
Though you can technically qualify even if you retain ownership of your home, you do have to be aware of Medicaid recovery. If the home is still in your name when you pass away, it could be attached by the Medicaid program when recovery efforts are underway.
We should point out the fact that there are protections in place for a healthy spouse who is remaining at home when his or her spouse enters a long-term care facility. The healthy spouse is entitled to a Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This allows the healthy spouse to retain ownership of half of the countable assets, but there is a limit.
In the state of Connecticut, this limit is $119,220 in 2016. There is also a minimum allowance that stands at $23,844 at the present time.
Under program rules, most of the income that is due to the institutionalized spouse must go toward the cost of the care that is being received, but this requirement is waived if the healthy spouse is relying on the income. The healthy spouse is entitled to a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. In Connecticut, the maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance is $2980.50. The minimum is $1,991.25.
If you want to qualify for Medicaid as a person with assets, you could engage in a Medicaid spend down. You don’t necessarily have to spend all of your assets yourself. It would be possible to give gifts to your loved ones to get assets out of your own name, but you have to act in advance because there is a 60 month look-back. You would have to wait out a period of ineligibility if you give away assets within 60 months of submitting your application.
Schedule a Consultation
Call us at 860-548-1000 or send us a message through our contact page if you would like to discuss nursing home asset protection with a licensed elder law attorney.
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