The short answer to the question asked in the title of this page is generally no, it’s not too late to protect your savings and income if you act as soon as possible. Start your Medicaid Crisis Planning right away.
Your reaction to my answer about protecting your family’s savings and income may be a surprise (hopefully a happy surprise) or disbelief (you’re not alone, most people think all is lost) especially if you have been reading my site and generally understand my discussion of the five year look back period ; (commonly referred to (by me) as the “five (5) year clock”). You’re thinking to yourself, is Fred saying he can save my parents/family members money even if we don’t have five (5) years to wait before we can apply to Medicaid?
Let me repeat my answer, YES! Depending upon the marital status of your family member/loved one (single vs. married), I may be able to save between 40%-100% of a single person’s savings and for a married couple up to 100% of their savings plus all or a portion of the income of the ill spouse and/or the community spouse.
It’s all perfectly legal, ethical and has been successfully used with hundreds of families just like yours. But every case is different and our past success cannot guarantee that it will work for you. I need to evaluate your case.
Explaining how one can achieve eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits in a crisis and at the same time, protect savings and income, is difficult. While I think of myself as a reasonably good teacher capable of explaining difficult concepts in simple, plain English, the vocabulary of Medicaid is much like the vocabulary of the United States Tax Code (IRS). It’s unintelligible. So, what I’ll do here is give you a “101” course on crisis planning and encourage you to call me ASAP, then once scheduled, come in and let me explain to you (in person, by video or conference call) how I can help your family.
Medicaid Crisis Planning “101”
Protecting a Lifetime of Savings and Income For a Married Couple
Is your family in “crisis”? It’s a term I use when a loved one can’t return home and needs placement in a nursing home or assisted living residence now or soon. A crisis can also mean that a loved one can’t return home or be left alone safely without home care assistance. In both examples, Medicaid benefits may/are going to be needed, and soon, mostly because of the exceptional costs of privately paying for long-term care.
If you’re married, the community spouse (that’s the spouse who does not presently require Medicaid) is allowed by law to keep for himself or herself a portion of the couples’ countable resources. This portion of their resources (aka “assets”) is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance, or “CSRA”. Each year this CSRA amount ($$$) is adjusted to reflect inflation.
Calculating the CSRA is a challenge. You must total up everything of value owned by each spouse individually and/or jointly with others (including each spouse) and divide that number by fifty (50%) percent. There is a maximum dollar amount that the community spouse can keep with the balance being subject to spend down unless it is protected. Maximizing your CSRA and protecting the excess CSRA is where I come in for you.
A community Spouse may also be entitled to all or a portion of the institutional spouse’s income and/or a monthly/annual income allowance. This income allowance is called the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Allowance or “MMMNA”.
There is a standard two-part formula to calculate the “MMMNA”. This formula provides both a minimum and a maximum income allowance for the community spouse to live on to pay bills. From this allowance the community spouse will have to pay all their living expenses (food, rent, mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc.). In a state like New Jersey, their income allowance may not be enough to cover all their bills. If that’s the case, then several strategic initiatives will have to be evaluated. Here again, you will need to act quickly in order to achieve maximum benefits.
What if There is No Surviving Spouse? Is a Single Person Out of Luck?
Maybe you or a loved one lives alone (i.e, Mom, Dad, Sibling, ex-spouse, Friend). Because of death, divorce or a choice never to have married, you or a loved one or friend is living alone. Is there anything that can be done to protect the resources of a single person in a crisis situation? The short answer remains, “YES”, but again you must act promptly. Time is not your ally.
One of the challenges in asset protection planning for single persons is that the law eliminates many of the resource exemptions and protections that are in place for married couples. The goal of Medicaid is to have every single person spend down their life savings to $2,000, then apply for Medicaid benefits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know the strategies.
As an Elder Law attorney working throughout New Jersey, I live with the Medicaid programs daily. Medicaid is a maze. It’s a system that offers tremendous benefits and value if you can achieve eligibility. Knowing how to get you eligibility without losing all your money is where I come in.
BEWARE OF MEDICAID APPLICATION COMPANIES AND NOVICE ATTORNEYS
You’ll never be told about the strategies I’m offering to you by a nursing home or the Medicaid Companies and attorneys they refer vulnerable families and individuals to. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, BEWARE OF THE MEDICAID APPLICATION COMPANIES THAT A NURSING HOME OR ASSISTED LIVING RESIDENCE RECOMMENDS.
They are in collusion with MANY of the nursing homes, receive referral fees and couldn’t care less about you! They are not staffed by attorneys and if they have offered you legal advice email me or call me in confidence about their advice and you experience with them. It is illegal for them to do so.
I invite you to reach out today toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll examine your emergency crisis situation and I’ll try my best to explain your crisis planning options in simple terms. Armed with the information, together we can make an informed decision. Don’t delay.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Medicaid Attorney
Medicaid Information Attorneys serving these New Jersey Counties:
Monmouth County, Ocean County, Essex County, Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Bergen County, Morris County, Burlington County, Union County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Passaic County