Published in Seniors Guide April 13, 2011
Ask the Expert
By: Dori Wiggen, Wiggen Law Group PLLC
Q: My dad recently had a bad fall and his doctor says he needs to go to a nursing home. Will Medicare pay for the cost of the nursing home? – Sandy M.
A: Dear Sandy,
I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. If he needs nursing home care, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing facility care if he meets certain requirements. If your dad needs to stay in the nursing home beyond 100 days, he may have to pay for this care out of his savings. If your dad has limited assets and income, Medicaid may pay for his nursing home care. The Medicaid rules are very complex and I recommend that you speak with an elder law attorney if you think your dad may need Medicaid to help pay for his care.
Q: I heard that if I qualify for Medicaid that I will have to give up my home. Is this true? – John B.
A: Dear John,
You will not have to give up your home in order to qualify for Medicaid. You may keep your home as long as you intend to return to live in your home, whether or not you actually do return. However, if the house is in your estate at your death, the state will have the right to recover whatever it has spent on your care, with certain limited exceptions.
Q: If my husband moves into a nursing home, will we have to use all of our joint savings to pay for his care? – Debbie G.
A: Dear Debbie,
If your husband moves into a nursing home and qualifies for Medicaid to pay for his care, he can keep $2,000 of assets and you can keep up to $109,560. In some circumstances, you may be entitled to keep more than this amount.
Q: I heard that veterans can get additional money to help pay for nursing home expenses. My husband served during WWII but he was never in combat, can we still get this money? – Jane C.
A: Dear Jane,
Your husband may be entitled to receive up to $1,949 per month to pay for his nursing home expenses. It does not matter if he was actually in combat, as long as he served at least 90 days of active duty, one day of which was during a war time period, and as long as he did not receive a dishonorable discharge. There are some other factors to eligibility. A VA Accredited Attorney can help you determine if he would be entitled to this benefit.
Q: Can I just give all my property to my son and then apply for Medicaid? – David L.
A: Dear David,
If you give away property in the five years prior to an application for Medicaid, you will be ineligible to receive Medicaid for one month for every $5,500 that you give away. There are some exceptions to this rule, but you should never give away property without first speaking with an elder law attorney to be sure you will not have a transfer penalty. In addition, giving away property could result in unexpected tax consequences and should be carefully considered.