Medicaid Planning Attorney in Tarpon Springs
The Medicaid program offered by the state of Florida is not a welfare program but an entitlement program. Medicaid is included under Title XXI of the Social Security Act and is intended to pay for your nursing home care. In Florida, Medicaid is a means tested program, meaning that there are certain assets and income limits that you have to meet in order to qualify. There is a way to protect your assets and income to meet those guidelines and qualify for those benefits.
The applicant/recipient or the person who must be placed in a nursing home may only have $2,000.00 in assets, excluding certain exempt assets that the state of Florida allows. This is a Florida specific requirement. There is also an income cap that is adjusted each year. If the applicant’s income exceeds the income limit it does not necessarily mean that you are ineligible for benefits. A Medicaid Planning attorney can prepare a document that would accept the excess money which would eventually be paid to the nursing home as part of the patient’s share. This document allows an individual who exceeds the income limit to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
The asset test which is referred to above allows you to own your homestead exempt property, one automobile, and a prepaid burial contract. Florida also allows us to exclude IRAs and 401K’s but there are exceptions and conditions that must be met in order for these rules to apply. If your asset level is too high, there are numerous strategies available in which to redistribute or transfer those assets so that the applicant is entitled to receive Medicaid benefits. There are also insurance products available that allow us to re-categorize money that you might think you would have to spend on your nursing home care. We can convert the asset to income so it is no longer included in the calculation. It is important to note that the well spouse or at-home spouse may have unlimited income.
One of the most common misconceptions about Medicaid is the look back period. Most people believe that they must spend down their assets before they can qualify for Medicaid benefits. The strategies that we employ are designed to circumvent the look back period. These are perfectly legal strategies and the state of Florida is well aware of the planning that is being done in order to qualify an individual for benefits. If the proper planning is conducted, then the look back period never becomes an issue.
The look back period becomes an issue usually due to actions taken by an applicant before they consult with our firm. This involves transferring an asset to a relative or friend without first consulting a Medicaid planning attorney, or it may involve adding another person’s name to a deed or property that you own before consulting with a specialist in this area. Many times, it involves gifting of assets which will be subject to the look back period and will cause the applicant to have to spend down a portion of their assets depending on the size of the gift and the frequency that they were made.
Our Tarpon Springs firm offers a free consultation which allows us to analyze your particular situation and design a preplan that you may employ if you so desire. If you are already at a stage where nursing home care is imminent we can immediately begin the planning process to properly position your assets so that we can save you as much as possible.
We urge you to call our offices at (727) 937-3111 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs. We are conveniently located in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and are proud to serve clients in north and south Pinellas County, as well as Pasco County, Hillsborough County, and Hernando County and the surrounding areas. This will not cost you any money but will involve only a small investment of your time.
Current Medicaid Benefits for 2018
- The asset limit for the person who is applying for Medicaid benefits is $2,000.00.
- The income limit for the person applying for Medicaid benefits is $2,250.00 for their financial needs.
- The amount of money that the spouse, who will remain at home, is entitled to retain is in the sum of $123,600.00 for their financial needs.
- The income limit that the spouse at home is entitled to receive, which may include diverting some of the income for the spouse who is applying for Medicaid benefits, is $2,030.00. The maximum is $3,090.00 based on excess shelter cost that the at-home spouse may be responsible for paying on a continuing basis.
- The home equity allowance is $572,000.00. This figure is calculated on the net equity. For instance, if there is a mortgage then that amount would be deducted from the market value of the home to determine the home equity value.
- The Personal Needs Allowance was $105.00. This is the amount of money that the applicant is allowed to keep. However, on July 1, 2018 the Personal Needs Allowance was increased to $130.00 each month.
- The co-pay responsibility for days 21-100 is $167.50 for each day. This is your share of cost after the first the twenty days, which is paid in full by the Medicare program.