When you are 65 years of age, you will qualify for Medicare coverage if you have sufficient retirement credits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year when you are working and paying taxes, and you become eligible after you have 40 credits.
If you are married and you do not have the 40 credits on your own, you can potentially qualify on your spouse’s work record. Most people that work get the four credits annually because the earning requirements are minimal.
As estate planning and elder law attorneys, we assist people that are preparing for the eventualities of aging as they craft their legacies. Asset preservation is part of the equation because expenses that you incur late in your life can reduce your financial capabilities.
There are out-of-pocket costs that you should prepare for in advance even if you are going to qualify for Medicare. Fortunately, Medicare will pay for hospice care, which is care that is provided for people that are in terminal conditions.
If physicians have determined that you have no more than six months to live, you can potentially enter hospice with Medicare paying the bills.
The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that 32 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease. Most octogenarians pass away with some level of cognitive impairment, but the period of decline can be erratic.
In some cases, a person with cognitive impairment will enter hospice because their doctors determine that they do not have long to live, but their condition can stabilize to some extent. The Washington Post recently published an article about this difficult subject.
People will sometimes enter hospice, and their families prepare themselves for the inevitable. It can be very difficult to care for someone that is in this condition, and for some older spouses or adult child caregivers, it is more than difficult–it is physically impossible.
Sadly, people will sometimes be sent home because Medicare refuses to continue to pay for the hospice care. This can lead to a cycle that repeats itself, and advocacy groups are starting to bring this to the attention of the powers that be.
Medicare will pay for hospice care, but it does not cover long-term custodial care that you would receive from an in-home health aide or a nursing home. This is the thin line that enters the picture when people are not going to recover, but the time factor is hard to predict.
Medicaid does pay for long-term care, and it will cover hospice care. Of course, since it is a need-based program, you cannot qualify if you have more than $1600 in countable assets in your name.
You could fund a revocable Medicaid trust to divest yourself of direct possession of assets with future eligibility in mind. The “future” qualifier is important because there is a five year look back. After you fund the trust, you will be ineligible for Medicaid for five years.
Until and unless you are a Medicaid recipient, you can accept distributions of the trust’s earnings. This can allow you to maintain your lifestyle even though you are transferring the nest egg that is generating the income into the trust.
This strategy can be highly effective, but it is a bit complicated. Elder law attorneys assist clients that want to take the right steps in advance to preserve inheritances that they would like to be able to leave to their loved ones.
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Some of the eventualities of aging are disconcerting, but with the proper planning, you can minimize the negative impact. If you are ready to get started, you can schedule a consultation at our Westport or Glastonbury, CT elder law offices if you call us at 860-548-1000.
There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out electronically, you will receive a prompt response.