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Do I Need a Caregiver Agreement?

By Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Lawyer Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw. 

Familial caregivers are typically compensated according to what the state along with your attorney determines to be “Fair Market Value”.  This may prevent transfers of money from one family member to the next from being counted as gifting or Medicaid spend down, when substantive caregiving services were rendered.

Once your elder law attorney has provided an evidentiary basis to prove that the transfer of assets were for fair market value, they still must demonstrate that the transfer of assets was made for reasons other than to qualify for Medicaid or that the elder receiving the caregiving services intended to pay for the services.

Simply providing verbal assurances that seniors were not considering applying for Medicaid when they transferred assets to the caregiver child is not sufficient proof that the assets were transferred for a reason other than to qualify for Medicaid.

It is important to recognize that anyone applying for nursing home Medicaid benefits is burdened by the presumption that any transfer of assets for less than fair market value is deemed to have been motivated by an intent to impoverish oneself to qualify for Medicaid benefits. While the presumption is rebuttable, those who sit in judgment of the evidence are the employees of the state Medicaid department who do not often rule in favor of the Medicaid applicant. The senior needs to have a written personal-care agreement and extensive supporting documentation.

However, even though the parties to the personal-care agreement may have anticipated being forced to use nursing home Medicaid when and if the senior’s assets become exhausted, that does not preclude them from giving “reliable proof” that the senior intended to receive valuable services in exchange for the transfer of assets.

Hearing officers and judges will examine the senior’s personal-care agreement, looking for reliable proof that the assets were exchanged for valuable services. There is some disagreement as to how specific the written agreement must be, but it is best to make the agreement as specific as possible.

In some states, it may be essential that the personal-care agreement be entered into prior to services being rendered. In other states, those reviewing the contract will be looking for specifics such as how long the services will last, how many hours per week, what standards of services are being provided, and what, if any, provisions provide for a refund.

In some cases, those reviewing the contract may investigate whether the services mentioned in the agreement were actually the services that were performed. Thus, while a valid, written caregiver agreement is a necessity, it is difficult to find a universal standard for what must be included in the agreement.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


“Outmoded Medicare”

By Rick Law, Elder Law Attorney at the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw.  The multi-generation law firm of LEL serves seniors, boomers, and their families in Kendall, Kane, DuPage, Will, Cook and other counties in Illinois.

The world was different in 1965.

I remember most of the aged poor of our community went to the county home for the aged and infirm. Most men died before the age of 65, and women before the age of 70. There were few long-term care facilities, because few were needed. Today we have millions of people with long-term care needs.

Many US citizens assume that Medicare is their right. They assume that the health reimbursement program provided by the United States government on behalf of persons who are over the age of 65, blind, and/or disabled has always been there, and always will be.  But this is not the case.  

Instituted in July of 1965, The Medicare-Medicaid Act was part of a number of reforms implemented by President Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic majority, marking a major shift in our societal view of who should carry the cost of providing medical care for senior citizens.

President Johnson stated:

“No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles and their aunts. And no longer will this nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.”

Medicare was built on a 1965 acute care model, designed to provide healthcare for the individual who has a probability of recovering from his or her disease. Medicare is not designed to pay for long-term care. Medicare was designed to ‘care’ about acute medical care; heart disease, gall stones or cancer. Medicare does not ‘care’ about diagnoses such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or long-term mobility problems. If you need long-term care, then you have lost the “diagnosis lottery”.

If you need care in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, your care is not acute but long-term, and Medicare stops ‘caring’ about you. As soon as Medicare stops ‘caring’, you are on your own! You will need to have a substantial long-term care insurance plan, a deep pocket-book, or become impoverished. If you are impoverished as defined by the Medicaid program, then you will meet Medicare’s ugly sister, Medicaid.  And that is a whole other story.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,   

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Is It Too Late To Right the Ship?

By Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw.  LEL is a multi-generation firm serving seniors and their families in Aurora, IL just West of Chicago off of the I-88 tollway.  

An all too familiar phone call came into our office the other day: “My mom is elderly and ailing, and my siblings and I need advice on how to help her.  Our folks have a decent monthly income and assets, but the nursing home costs are three times that much! Nobody made any plans for this. My parents never expected to live this long. We don’t know what to do.  I can’t have them live with me. Help me, please!”

Nobody enjoys the feelings of hopelessness and impending doom brought upon by this kind of situation. But “We don’t know what to do!” is just the beginning of the journey for the concerned family.

Often we get this phone call from the child or spouse caretaker because the person in need of care isn’t ready to admit yet that they need help.  We can’t force a parent to get assistance, but we can be the “voice of authority,” to tell them when it’s time to start letting go and facing reality.  It is our job as elder law attorneys to help our senior clients–and those who love them–make those tough end-of-life and long-term care decisions

The call from the kids has several possible motives, and more specifically, several underlying emotions:

  • Love and responsibility: to provide the best care for mom or dad with the least destruction of their assets during their lives.
  • Seeking relief: the need to lift the care and cost burden off the caregiver, who may be the caller himself or another loved one.
  • Fear of loss: the desire to conserve the benefits of the parental assets, either during the parents’ lives or at the time of their deaths.
  • Greed: the desire to get access to the parents’ assets so the assets will not be “lost.”
  • Confusion: Looking for a source of care and comfort at a time of great emotional and financial stress.
  • Guilt: for not being able to do more for a needy parent, spouse, or other loved one.
  • Shame: one man recently said to us, “I just can’t believe that I have to put the love of my life in a nursing home.”
  • Anger: “Why did my parents not plan better?” “Why me? My siblings never help me take care of dad.” “I wish he would just die.”
  • Frustration: over conflict with declining parents.
  • Self-preservation: worry about how much of their own limited resources must be used to provide parental care.

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


The Gift Tax, and Gifts to Family Members

By Rick Law, Elder Law and Medicaid Crisis Planning Attorney at the Estate Planning Center of Law ElderLaw, Kane County Senior Advocates in Illinois.

One of the most common myths of gifting is that the recipient of the gift pays taxes. It is counterintuitive that the person making a gift may be responsible for gift taxes on the amount gifted. Individuals can give away money, and if they don’t go beyond the lifetime limit, they are likely to have no gift tax issues, but they will certainly have Medicaid problems if they need nursing home care within five years of the date of the gift.

The fact that people don’t have gift tax issues does not mean they are home free. Medicaid and the IRS don’t agree on the issue of gifting.

With five years of records under scrutiny and all transfers being aggregated and brought forward to the date that the applicant is otherwise eligible, penalty periods will be imposed and the individual will have no way to pay for care. The total amount of the non-allowable transfers will be divided by either the state-specific divisor or (in Illinois) by the client’s semiprivate room rate in the facility.

Thus, if an individual has transferred $60,000 over a five-year period and these transfers are deemed non-allowable (not for fair market value) transfers, and the client has a divisor of $6,000, the penalty period, or period of ineligibility, is 10 months. The 10-month period will not start until the client is down to the asset limit and receiving an institutionalized level of care.

So, who will pay? The person needing assistance is out of money.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Improperly Spending Down Assets – Don’t Make These Mistakes!”

By Rick Law, author of ‘Cruising Through Retirement – Avoiding the Potholes’, Elder Law attorney at the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw in Aurora, IL.

If a spouse has Alzheimer’s and needs to qualify for Medicaid but the assets are too high, that person cannot simply give away assets until reaching the maximum figure. “Spending down” has to be done within the Medicaid regulations.

An Elder Lawyer knows to keep in mind that there is a five-year look-back period when it comes to assets and qualifying for Medicaid. That means if the client has Alzheimer’s and needs to qualify for Medicaid, any gifts the client made in the last five years can, and probably will, be scrutinized.

When a person needs to qualify for Medicaid, it is very difficult to prove that gifts made in the last five years were not made to qualify for Medicaid.

The general rule is that money transferred between generations will be presumed to have been given to qualify for nursing home Medicaid. The presumption is that if the person gave away money within five years of needing nursing home Medicaid, the giving was done in order to qualify for nursing home Medicaid. If you cannot rebut this presumption, the person will earn a penalty period of ineligibility.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Avoiding Asset Spend Down

By Attorney Rick Law, managing partner at the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw. Providing estate planning, wills trusts, probate, guardianship, and elder law services to the western Chicago suburb of Aurora in Kane County, Illinois.

Let’s say a couple has a house that is valued at approximately $300,000 and two vehicles.  One spouse needs nursing home care and applies for Medicaid assistance. In Illinois, if one spouse stays at home (the “community” spouse), the home is considered “exempt”.  The community spouse can have one vehicle of any value and the institutionalized spouse can have a vehicle as long as the value is not more than $4,500 (unless it is a special vehicle for transportation due to medical needs—i.e., a wheelchair van). So, in this instance, their house and cars are exempt.

In addition to the house and the cars, let’s say they have a joint annuity of $100,000, a couple of CDs of $20,000 each, a brokerage account of $50,000, and a checking and savings account of about $15,000 total.

In Illinois, the community spouse can keep $109,560 and the institutionalized spouse can have a maximum amount of assets of $2,000, for a total of $111,560. Anything over the $111,560, regardless of the type of asset (even IRAs), must be spent down on care before the in prior to qualifying for Medicaid for the institutionalized spouse.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Medicaid and Principal Place of Residence

By Rick Law, Managing Partner and Senior Advocate at the Estate Planning Center of Law ElderLaw in Aurora, IL in the Western suburbs of Chicagoland.

When one spouse is in a nursing home (the “institutionalized” spouse), and one spouse still lives in their jointly owned home (the “community” spouse), the home is considered an exempt asset.  In other words, the spouse still living in the home does not have to sell the home for the ill spouse to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

But, there are different  rules in each state regarding liens placed against the home. In some states, even though the home is “exempt,” the state stands ready to file a lien against the home at the time the community spouse passes away for the amount paid for assistance of the institutionalized spouse.

When a single person moves out of their home to go to a nursing home, the rules change. In most states, the individual in the nursing home is not allowed to keep their home. In some states, if the person does keep the home, the state will file a lien against that home. In Illinois, the state files a lien, but if the person is able to move back home, a lawyer can have the lien removed.

Most states have certain limitations, ranging from $750,000 to $5 million of equity, on the maximum amount of equity that a person can have in a home or be forced to sell it. In many states, including Illinois, if a single person owns a home and goes into a nursing home, it is presumed that person will not go back to their home. Therefore, the state will require that the home be listed for sale if the owner has not returned to the home after 120 days. The owner can claim what is called an “intent to return” and not have to sell the home, but the state of Illinois will file a lien against the house.  The lien is based on whatever is the eventual total amount of Medicaid that is expended on that person’s behalf, so that when that house is sold, the state has a claim against the proceeds.

The federal government allows the states to choose levels of exempt assets within a range of what’s allowable under the federal standards. These exempt assets, called the “community spouse resource allowance” (CSRA), is the amount of money available to a community spouse as a resource allowance when an institutionalized spouse applies for benefits under the Medicaid program. Most states require full disclosure of all assets owned jointly or individually by either spouse. Illinois and many other states do not care if this is a second marriage or if there is a prenuptial agreement.  All assets must be disclosed when either spouse applies for Medicaid assistance.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


“Medicaid Eligibility”

By Elder Law attorney Rick Law. Founder and Managing partner at the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw.  Senior care and planning advocates in Aurora, IL, just off the Farnsworth exit of the I-88 tollway.

Medicaid eligibility is based on the applicant’s medical condition and assets and income. For example, to apply for Medicaid assistance to cover residential long-term-care costs, an individual must either live in a nursing home or have a medical need (such as Alzheimer’s) that requires nursing home care.

A medical assessment is necessary to establish medical eligibility in order to identify the long-term health-care needs.

It is also necessary to be a U.S. citizen or be lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. Individuals are required to live in the state where they apply for Medicaid and must intend to make that state their home.

Medicaid strictly limits the assets people may own while accepting benefits. While each state has its own limits and its own exempt assets, the following are generally exempt assets that do not count against the beneficiary:

  • the principal place of residence in certain situations
  • household and personal belongings
  • one car
  • burial plot/prepaid funeral plan
  • cash value of permanent life insurance policies up to $1,500
  • a small amount of cash (this varies from state to state, but typically a single Medicaid applicant may keep $2,000 while married couples who both require Medicaid may keep about $3,000)

All other assets are “countable assets” and count toward the state determined maximum. Countable assets are bank accounts, CDs, money market accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, retirement accounts, pensions, second cars, second or vacation homes, and any other item that can be valued and turned into cash.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


The Burden of the Caregiving Spouse

By Rick Law, Medicaid crisis planning attorney and estate planner at the Elder Law firm of Law ElderLaw in Western Chicagoland in IL.

An often overlooked aspect of Alzheimer’s disease is the burden placed on caregiving spouses, who often need care themselves later.

We once had a client whose husband had Alzheimer’s disease and eventually needed long-term care beyond what his wife could provide. Despite the husband’s macho declaration that he would put a gun to his head before ever going to a nursing home, the sad truth is that his wife would be the one to bear the burden caused by his long-term-care needs and her own aging challenges.

The husband and wife in this example are frugal people who worked hard all their lives. They live on two Social Security checks, his modest pension, and minimal investments. They are able to pay their bills and enjoy simple luxuries—until the out-of-pocket expenses of long-term care begin to drain what they worked a lifetime to save.

The wife selflessly provides in-home care for her beloved husband, but eventually the day will come when her strength is not enough to pick him up or keep him from wandering away from home. On that day, it might be a doctor, a discharge planner, or a police officer who looks into her eyes and speaks the harsh truth: “I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t take care of him by yourself anymore.”

This poor woman will then face a nightmare as she walks the eldercare journey with a frail and declining husband. First, she will learn that neither Medicare nor their health insurance provides any payment for home healthcare costs. Later, when her husband must be relocated to a long-term care facility, she will discover that neither Medicare nor Medicaid supplemental insurance will pay the facility’s $3,000 to $8,000 monthly cost.

Quickly, she also will discover that Medicaid is not available because she has “too much money.”

Her husband’s care will be offset by Medicaid only if she and her husband meet stringent income and asset limitations. If they have assets over $109,560, they will be forced to “spend down” their life savings, which Medicaid defines as “excess assets.” When all excess assets have been spent on her husband’s medical care, then Medicaid will also control her monthly income. In Illinois, she will be restricted to $2,739 per month from the couple’s joint income. If she has more income than this of her own not counting her husband’s income, the state (again, Illinois) will seek a support amount from her to contribute to the payment of his care.

Later, when her husband dies, she will receive more bad news. She may lose all or half of his pension, and as the “survivor spouse” she loses one of the two Social Security checks. She has spent nearly all of their assets to provide for her husband’s care, and now she can’t even afford to live in her own home. The nightmare of long-term care will leave her impoverished and will steal her independence after she has spent many years providing for his care.

She will not have the luxury of a spouse who will serve her as she served him. No one will be there to dutifully care for her at home and to delay the day that she must move to a long-term-care facility. She will not have the financial resources that he had, because Medicaid called them “excess nonexempt assets” and she spent those assets paying for her husband’s care. As a single person, she will not be provided with assistance by the Medicaid system until she has become impoverished to the point of a paltry $2,000 or less in total assets. The indignity committed against her does not stop there, for now she must sign over all her income to the nursing home as well, except for a miserly personal-needs allowance of $30 per month, which is not enough to get her hair done much less to pay for personal items and replace clothing that is worn or that does not come back from the laundry at the nursing home.

The loving wife who faithfully cared for her husband is now out of money and out of options. She is alone—and living the nightmare of long-term care in America.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


The Mythology of Medicaid

By Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw. Senior advocates in Aurora, Illinois.

Most people believe that Medicaid is only for the really poor members of society and that they will never use Medicaid.

There is a stigma attached to Medicaid in many people’s minds because of this nearly universal belief. However, in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, Medicaid is a very important program, and it’s important to find yourself a lawyer who is cognizant of how it works.

A former Illinois senator who had dealt with senior issues for years once told me, “I don’t quite understand what Medicaid has to do with senior citizens.”

I replied, “In the state of Illinois, the average senior citizen does not have enough personal resources, savings, IRA, etc. to pay privately for even one year of long-term care services out-of-pocket. Therefore, almost every Illinois senior citizen’s family who winds up with a loved one requiring long-term care will need to deal with Illinois’s Medicaid nursing home benefit qualification rules. That’s what Medicaid has to do with senior citizens.”

He was a very capable politician who had been voting on senior issues for over 20 years. But in his position as a local layperson relative to Medicare and Medicaid, even as a politician, he had no idea that the words senior citizen and Medicaid applied to each other at any point.

The former senator is not alone in his thinking. This is an example of how few people (lawyers and laypersons alike) understand Medicaid and, unfortunately, the federal government is not working very hard to break this myth. People assume that Medicare will provide care from age 65 to the grave, and that is simply not true.

Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program that provides medical benefits to eligible individuals. The federal government gives grants to the states, covering about 50 to 80 percent of the program costs, with the state paying the balance. Each state adopts its own rules, within the federal guidelines, for administering the program.

Medicaid pays for nursing home costs for qualified individuals. It can also cover home- and community-based services such as assistance with bathing, light housekeeping, cooking, and laundry while an eligible patient with Alzheimer’s remains at home if a state offers these community programs.

People sometimes forget that Alzheimer’s disease will alter the life of the spouse in dramatic ways, and there are consequences that can continue long after the spouse with Alzheimer’s is gone.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!