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St. Petersburg Medicaid Asset Protection Attorneys

Helping You Pay for Long-Term Care - Call (727) 240-2350

Long term-care, also called custodial care, is the living arrangements that include nursing home care, assisted living facility care, and some at-home care circumstances. Not included is the up to 100 days available from Medicare for rehabilitative skilled care that may be provided in the same facility.

Long-term care is paid for in one or a combination of three ways:

  • Long-term care insurance
  • Private funds
  • Medicaid

If you have assets worth protecting, are young and healthy enough to qualify, and can afford the premiums, long-term care insurance may be your best option. Otherwise, you will be required to draw from your own resources or Medicaid for payment of services.

Schedule a consultation with our St. Petersburg Medicaid lawyers today by calling (727) 240-2350.

The Basics

Many courts have commented that federal Medicaid laws are the most complicated laws that have ever been put into effect by Congress with the exception of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, Florida has many special laws, rules, regulations, and interpretations that increase the confusion.

Achieving Florida Medicaid eligibility can be an overwhelming challenge for anyone, even for attorneys who practice in this area every day! Yet, a knowledgeable elder law attorney can provide proper guidance when navigating this area. With that help, the rewards can be great.

In Florida, there are a number of different Medicaid programs including a long-term care assistance program for the financially needy. If certain eligibility criteria are met, Medicaid virtually absorbs the entire cost of nursing home care that exceeds the resident’s income.

The income amount that must be paid to the facility depends upon the resident’s marital status and the spouse’s needs.

Protect the Spouse

In Medicaid terminology, when there is a married couple, the spouse in the nursing home is called the Institutionalized Spouse and the spouse staying at home is called the Community Spouse.

A married couple’s assets are all considered together. It does not matter if all the assets are held jointly or separately in each spouse’s name. Some assets can be specifically exempt for the Community Spouse, such as a home and its contents, a vehicle, and prepaid funerals as long as they meet certain criteria.

When the Institutionalized Spouse goes into the nursing home, that person’s countable assets must be less than $2,000, but the community spouse is entitled to keep much more. That amount changes each January.

There are several money-saving planning strategies that may be considered. In order to develop a strategy, a thorough review of the couple’s circumstances must be done.

The following facts will play an important role in determining appropriate Medicaid services:

  • Age, medical condition, mental condition, lifestyle, prognosis, and desires of each spouse
  • All of the couple’s assets, ownership of each asset, values and tax cost basis
  • All income sources, amounts and survivorship rights
  • Full understanding of each spouse’s relatives
  • Potential for veteran’s benefits

Eligibility Tests

There are certain criteria for Medicaid eligibility that fall into three basic categories.

Basic and Medical Necessity

This includes criteria such as medical necessity, age, citizenship, and residency requirements. To obtain nursing home Medicaid benefits, a person must be at least 65 years of age, blind, or disabled, and have the medical necessity to be in a nursing home. For someone medically qualified for nursing home care but who is still at home, Florida also has certain pilot programs such as the Diversion Program and the Alzheimer’s Initiative, which provide certain specific services.

Income Test

Florida is an Income Cap state, which means there is an income limit for Medicaid eligibility. A person’s income is the total they receive from Social Security, pensions, IRAs, and all other forms of income. The income limit typically goes up by a few dollars each year. In many cases, one can use a particular trust called a Qualified Income Trust (also known as a Miller Trust) to legally solve the problem of too much income.

Income for Medicaid purposes is gross income. This means that all deductions are added back into the income before one can determine the total amount.

Asset Test

The nursing home resident must have less than $2,000 of countable assets. Some assets are exempt. Exempt assets may include a home and its contents, a vehicle, prepaid funerals, and cemetery lots. However, it is important to evaluate each asset carefully before one can know if the asset is countable or exempt.

Examples of countable assets are cash in the bank, cash, stocks, annuities, bonds, land, minerals, non-homestead property, notes receivable, boats, and certain extra vehicles. Countable assets must be less than $2,000.

Even if spending down is part of the plan to obtain Medicaid, a knowledgeable attorney is able to counsel clients in a manner that is advantageous to the Medicaid applicant and to the family.

Contact Hill & Kinsella online or at (727) 240-2350 to schedule a consultation with our St. Petersburg Medicaid Attorneys.

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