Mon, 25 February 2008
The discussion of long term care and government benefits to pay for that care most often leads to the topic of Medicaid, however, there is another benefit available to qualified veterans of the U.S. military through the Veterans Administration that can be a source of funds to pay for assisted living and home based care. Eligible veterans and their widowed spouses may be eligible for a non-service connected pension, as much as $1801 per month for veterans, $976 per month for widowed spouses. The program is commonly known as the Aid and Attendance program and the applicant must be deemed permanently and totally disabled. But if you're thinking that it's probably too hard to prove a disability that's not necessary the case. The VA presumes that someone over 65 years of age and housebound or in an assisted living facility is permanently and totally disabled.
As is often the case with government benefits, the rules can be confusing. Similar to the Medicaid program applicants must meet certain income and asset limits. The pension amount is determined by a specific formula. Unreimbursed medical expenses are subtracted from gross income. That number is then subtracted from the maximum pension amount to determine the applicant's pension amount. It is important to understand that the cost of the assisted living facility and home health aides is usually counted as an unreimbursed medical expense. In many cases, it becomes easy to qualify for the maximum pension amount.
There is also an asset limit, approximately $40,000 for a single individual, $80,000 for married couples. Unlike the Medicaid program, however, there is no lookback period or penalty for transferring assets. This means that one can transfer assets to get below the asset limits and immediately qualify for Aid and Attendance.
However, things are not that simple. (They rarely are when it comes to the long term care system and government benefits). Transferring assets can result in additional benefits from the VA but those same transfers will result in ineligibility for Medicaid. Now, that's not to say that one should forget about Aid and Attendance. It does, however, require a carefully drafted plan so that should the applicant need the next level of care down the road (ie. nursing home care) the applicant will be able to qualify.
Consulting with a knowledgeable elder law attorney who will help a family plan for the next level of care, not just the care that is needed now, is advisable.
Category:Veteran's Benefits -- posted at: 8:00am EST
Sat, 16 February 2008
Elder Law Today LIVE
Here is your chance to talk live with show host Yale Hauptman on his first live call in show. If you have important questions that you need answered by an experienced elder law attorney here is your chance. On March 3 at 8 PM eastern time Yale will host his first live show.
In addition to answering questions live Yale will have some special guests on the show. This will surely be and educational and entertaining experience.
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Here is the information to join the show
Category:News -- posted at: 3:34pm EST
Tue, 12 February 2008
Over the past 13+ year I've been able to help many families through what we call the elder care journey from healthy vigorous senior through home assistance, assisted living and nursing home care. Some of the more common mistakes that I see people make are the following:
1. Believing Medicare covers long term custodial nursing home care (it does not);
2. Thinking that a transfer of $12,000 per person per year will not cause Medicaid ineligibility (there is no gift tax but there is a Medicaid transfer penalty);
3. Failing to account for transfer penalties and loss of control of assets when trying to protect assets (I've seen disastrous outcomes because of it);
4. Failing to consider negative tax consequences and disruption of estate plan when transferring assets;
5. Transferring assets without providing a plan for where sources of funds will come from should long term care be necessary within the next 5 years after the transfer;
6. Confusing the Medicaid lookback and transfer penalty (they are not the same);
7. Believing that it is too late to plan (it rarely is);
8. Failing to recognize the sense of urgency in doing long term care planning by telling yourself "I'll wait till it looks like I will need long term care" (the earlier the planning the more that can be protected);
9. Believing that long term care planning means I will lose control of my assets and my decision making (in fact the opposite is true);
10. Hearing what other family members, friends or acquaintances have done and do exactly the same because it sounds like your situation is identical to theirs (it never is, every situation is unique, just as every person is unique);
Category:Long term care planning -- posted at: 9:45pm EST
Fri, 1 February 2008
In the second installment of Elder Law Today Podcast, Yale Hauptman, a practicing New Jersey elder law attorney, explains the basics of the Medicaid nursing home program. Yale explains how this needs-based program works, including the asset and income tests for eligibility. Learn what countable and non-countable assets, Medicaid transfer penalty and lookback period are and why Medicare will not cover most nursing home stays.
Yale also explains why long term care planning must be done well before entry to a nursing home becomes necessary. Congress passed significant changes to the Medicaid laws 2 years ago, known as the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, changes that the average American is unaware of. Learn why even if you spend down your assets to the Medicaid levels you still may face a Medicaid transfer penalty.
In the second segment, Yale interviews Barbra London of Freedom Eldercare, a licensed home health care agency. Listen to Barbra and Yale talk about the types of services a home health care agency provides and common misconceptions people have about this important resource. They also discuss why, under the new Medicaid laws, hiring an aide directly, rather than through an agency, can trap the unwary and cause a Medicaid ineligibility period.
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To contact Barbra London 201-883-1200 or toll free 866-7 Freedom
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