Elder Law Report
Look Back Periods
Medicaid can be a scary time for families. If someone needs Medicaid it’s likely they’re searching for help with Long Term Care, Nursing Home or Assisted Living Care and how to save their hard-earned money and property while doing so. They are hoping Medicaid will step in and help pay for these things.
There are a lot of rules surrounding this process. One area of concern is look back periods.
What are look back periods?
Let’s say you are applying for benefits today.
A look back period is the area of time Medicaid will examine all your financial history. For VA and Assisted Living Facilities they’re going to look back three years into your financial history. For Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing Facilities or Long-Term Care Medicaid it will be a five year look back.
If we put in a Medicaid application today, Medicaid will look back at all your bank statements, all property (real estate) transfers (for the three to five year period) and make sure all the transactions were done correctly under the spend down rules.
Let’s say, (within a three year look back), you put a Ladybird Deed on your home one year ago, that would be acceptable because under Medicaid policy they allow you to do that. It is also okay under VA Pension Benefits because they allow you to have a home and two acres before they start to count value.
They are going to see this and say, we’re okay with that because that’s our policy. So, you can protect that home, get the benefit and they know they cannot back collect that home. (Ladybird Deeds protect the home and surrounding property up to about $550,000).
If you had transferred out-right (that is deeded your house to another person or a trust) three and half years ago, (and we were going for Assisted Living Medicaid with a three look back period), you would also be okay because it’s outside the look back period. This could also have been a money or wealth transfer.
However, Nursing Home Care has a five year look back period. If we stick with the above example and you transferred your house within the five year look back period, it must conform with the spend down rules, otherwise it will be flagged.
Remember, if you don’t transfer things correctly according to the spend down rules, you can find yourself in a lot of trouble and heartache. The penalty for working outside the rules can be either a penalty period, so within that time frame you would need to put the money back, or sacrifice the home when that person passes away because of the Medicaid lien, or you would have the person in need denied the benefits altogether.
We can help you in this process using Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection, Medicaid Activation and also Veteran’s Pension Benefits and Disability.
If you have questions about Spend Downs, call me, Greg McIntyre and schedule a consult at 704-998-5800 for Charlotte, or 704-259-7040 for Shelby, or visit our website mcelderlaw.com and we will do what we can to help you.
Elder Law Attorney