Spending down virtually all of your money is one path to becoming eligible for Medicaid. However, you don’t have to do that. There are a number of entirely legal and proper strategies that can be used to protect your assets or income, and at the same time become eligible for Medicaid. Click here to Find Your Situation.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

You can qualify. Many people have the mistaken impression that they would never be approved for benefits under Medicaid eligibility requirements. That is simply not the case. With effective planning, most people can get Medicaid.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

No. There is nothing illegal or improper about transferring your assets to family members or to a trust. However, if you are applying for Medicaid nursing home care, and have made transfers within the “look back” period, you may be subject to a “penalty period” during which Medicaid will not pay your nursing home bill. Note that certain transfers do not trigger a penalty (for example, transfers between spouses), and that the “look back” does not apply to Medicaid’s home care or assisted living programs. Further, even if you are subject to a “penalty period,” there are often Elder Law strategies available to reduce the penalty and save a substantial portion of your assets.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

The “look back” period is the five year period extending back from the date of your application for Medicaid nursing home benefits. Medicaid requires documentary proof of all of your financial transactions during this period, to determine whether you made any gifts or transfers of your assets. Transfers and gifts that you made within the “look back” period are subject to a penalty that may delay your eligibility for Medicaid benefits.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

The “look back” will not prevent you from applying for Medicaid, but it may result in a delay of your eligibility for nursing home benefits. It is a primary reason why it is important to become informed of your rights and options, and to plan ahead.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

If you are in a nursing home and are asking Medicaid to pay the nursing home’s bills, Medicaid will refuse to do so for a period of time if you have made any gifts or transfers of your assets during the five year “look back” period. The number of months that you are not eligible for Medicaid benefits is called the “penalty period.” Here is an example of how the “penalty period” works. Let’s say you live in New York City, and you gave your son or daughter a gift of $120,000 in January 2014. If you needed nursing home care in 2017 (or at any point up to January 2019), and you filed a Medicaid application, your gift would fall within Medicaid’s “look back” period.

Medicaid would then perform a calculation as follows: the amount or value of your gift would be divided by Medicaid’s monthly regional rate for nursing home care, resulting in a number that represents the period of time in months that you are not eligible for Medicaid nursing home benefits. The regional rate applicable to you depends on your county of residence within New York State.

In New York City, the Medicaid regional rate for 2017 is $12,157. In our example, the calculation is thus $120,000 divided by $12,157, resulting in a “penalty period” of approximately 10 months. During this time, someone other than you would have to pay for your care.

Don’t let the “look back” and the “penalty period” deter you from seeking the advice of an Elder Law attorney. He or she will likely have a strategy to save you a significant amount of money, even if you made a gift or transfer that subjects you to a “penalty period.” For a discussion of the strategies that might apply in nursing home cases, click to Find Your Situation.

No, it is not too late, even if you already in a nursing home. Most Elder Law strategies can be implemented at the last minute. If you need nursing home care, your ability to protect your assets may be more limited than if you had planned ahead. However, even in a worst case scenario, it is likely that you could still protect 40-50% of your assets. In cases involving home care or assisted living, usually all of your assets can be protected.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.

Yes, of course. All of Lamson & Cutner’s recommendations and strategies are based on provisions of Federal or New York State laws or rules, and are entirely proper. They’re time-tested, reliable, and cost effective. We do not believe in taking risks or employing so-called “cutting edge” strategies for our clients. We want clients to be secure in the knowledge that they are acting properly and responsibly in seeking benefits that they are entitled to receive, and have helped pay for through their taxes and payroll deductions. If you’ve saved some money and paid your taxes, you don’t want to put yourself in a positon where you would have to live out your remaining years in poverty when Medicaid benefits are available to you.

For effective planning, if you are making any transfers of your assets now, the five-year look back period must be taken into account.