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Your first step to figuring out how to pay for long-term care is to contact the certified elder law attorney, G. Mark Shalloway, at Shalloway & Shalloway in West Palm Beach. Our firm is experienced in assisting seniors and their families plan for the cost of long-term care while at the same time helping those same seniors protect their hard-earned assets.
Until you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic illness or injury, long-term care may never have crossed your mind. Diagnoses like Alzheimer’s, dementia, broken hip, stroke, or other chronic conditions can leave your loved one needing constant care. Coming to terms with your loved one’s new life condition is one thing, but figuring out how to pay for it is another. In Palm Beach County, the average cost of a nursing home is $8,000-$12,000 a month. Assisted living facilities range between $2,000-$7,000 per month, and home health care can cost a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars each month. Simply put, the cost of long-term care could easily be over $100,000 per year. Long-term care insurance—while helpful in some cases—is either not available to most seniors due to health conditions or is simply too expensive. For example, your loved one may need care at the assisted living level, but the long-term care insurance only pays for care in a skilled nursing facility. Most middle class families cannot afford to pay the cost of long-term care without liquidating their assets: their savings, retirement accounts, and their home. Thankfully, with proper planning and advice of an experienced asset protection attorney, you can pay for the cost of long-term care without going broke.
Although Medicare helps our aging population pay for doctor’s visits, hospital stays, medications, and surgeries, Medicare will not pay for the cost of long-term care. Medicaid, however, will pay for a stay in a nursing home, the care cost of an assisted living facility, and for five hours per day of home health care. While Medicaid pays for the majority of the cost of care, you will be required to pay what’s called your “share of cost.” For example, if you receive $1,000 in Social Security each month and the cost of the nursing home is $11,000 per month, the nursing home will take your Social Security check and Medicaid will pay the remaining $10,000 to the nursing home.
Medicaid is a great resource but without proper planning, you will be required to spend down your savings. Under Medicaid, you are allowed to keep one house, one car, some personal items (jewelry, etc.) and $2,000 in assets. If you are married, your spouse can have about $100,000 in assets. Anything above these limits will disqualify you from receiving Medicaid coverage—unless you receive planning assistance from a certified asset protection attorney. At Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A., we can help you plan for the future.
Importantly, Medicaid has a five-year look-back period. Medicaid’s look-back period looks at any certain types of transfers that you have made in the last five years in order to determine if any disqualifying events occurred. This means that any non-qualifying transfer of sums (say, gifting your $300,000 in savings to your daughter in one lump sum) can disqualify you from receiving Medicaid for a number of years in the future. Understanding the look-back period is crucial in Medicaid planning because what seems like the best way to get yourself to look “poor on paper” can actually end up costing you years of benefits you otherwise would be entitled to.
Planning for Medicaid is complex and requires the skill of an experienced elder law attorney. If you could receive all of the benefits of Medicaid while keeping every penny of your life savings, why wouldn’t you call today? Find out how you could benefit from Shalloway & Shalloway’s Medicaid/Long-Term Care/Asset Protection planning today.