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This is Strategy #7 from Lamson & Cutner’s publication, “25 Strategies to Prevent Financial Ruin from Long-Term Health Care Costs.”  Click here to see the other strategies.

Some people think they can save money on legal fees by preparing their own Medicaid applications. However, the application is a complicated document, and a complete application may be thousands of pages long. Eligibility can often only be won with complex legal and financial planning, to overcome Medicaid obstacles. Even nursing home professionals, who deal with Medicaid daily, will frequently refer prospective residents to an Elder Law firm for this reason.

Trying to complete your own application can be daunting and frustrating. If you make mistakes due to unfamiliarity with government regulations, you may compromise or lose your ability to qualify for benefits. Loss or delay of eligibility may ultimately have a devastating financial impact on you.  A delay of even one month in gaining eligibility could cost more than the fee an Elder Law firm would charge to complete a Medicaid application – and the responsibility will be on your shoulders. Professional assistance will relieve your stress and make it more likely the process will move smoothly.

In addition, sometimes there are unusual issues, requiring special handling that only an Elder Law attorney can provide. In one case of this sort, Lamson & Cutner helped a middle-aged, single woman who immigrated to the United States, and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer. She needed chemotherapy and medication, as well as physician and hospital coverage.

We transferred her assets out of her name and filed a Medicaid application on her behalf. She was approved for a level of benefits that gave her 100% coverage and allowed her to choose her own doctors. Without the extra attention her case received, it is likely she would only have been covered by a Health Maintenance Organization (“HMO”).

If you are an extremely organized person, the applicant has few or no assets and few bank accounts, and you have no time pressure, it is possible to complete a Medicaid application yourself.  However, in most cases people quickly realize that it is better to hire someone who does this for a living.

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