Many of us are caring for aging parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other loved ones. We do this while we juggle our own jobs, families and day to day responsibilities. It is hard enough to watch a loved one age and require help from others to meet basic care needs, but if they need that day to day help this can be a significant cause of stress. The stress if often based on providing for these care needs ourselves and/or the cost of paying for more formal assistance or both!
If your loved one is lucky enough to have a long term care policy, you should use it! Don’t “save” it for later. Unfortunately, many older people today do not have these policies. It leaves us feeling like the only other option is to pay for the care or have family provide it.
There is another option! Medicaid. So many people say “we can’t get Medicaid, we have a pension” or “we have too much money” or “we own our house” However, Medicaid can be a very viable option for providing home care services. This is especially relevant as people today want to age in place ie; STAY AT HOME!
So how can someone qualify for New York State Medicaid if they have some money, have a pension, own a home?
Here are a few important facts:
- Medicaid in the Community (at home care) does not penalize people for transferring their assets. So you can “gift” your assets to your family or a trust and still qualify for Medicaid the following month.
- Your home is exempt from Medicaid as long as you live in it –so you can get benefits even if you own your own home.
- You can keep your retirement accounts (ie; IRA, 401k) and the principal will be exempt from Medicaid. As long you take the required minimum distribution (RMD) your retirement assets are protected.
- You can protect income from Medicaid too! Through a vehicle called a Pooled Income Trust, you can protect all income over the Medicaid level and still qualify for benefits.
What will Medicaid pay for? Home Health Aides – a few hours a day to 24hr x 7 days. They will pay for adult day care programs, medical transportation, and certain equipment like grab bars and incontinent supplies (which cost a fortune!).
These services can potentially allow people to remain in their homes, avoiding nursing home placement entirely.
Planning is the essential piece in this process. Understanding what you may be able to qualify for and how to obtain the benefits requires the assistance of a knowledgeable professional. Elder Care Specialists, Medicaid Specialists, Geriatric Care Managers and elder Attorneys can all be helpful in this process. If you need more information, please see my website Medicaidsolutions.com or feel free to contact me.
Colin Sandler, LCSW, CCM
2127 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567
Colin Sandler is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Care Manager providing advice for aging to seniors and their families for over 20 years.