As an Elder Law attorney, much of what I do is help people pay for their long-term care. It has become a large part of our practice, which is no surprise when you consider that 70% of individuals over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care and that care costs can range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a month. For many people, the goal is to get Medicaid to pay for your cost of care. And why wouldn’t you? You pay into Medicaid your whole life. You should be entitled to see at least a little bit of that money. But what happens when you get Medicaid approved?
There are many “street lawyers” out there spreading myths about Medicaid and how it works. The best way to address what happens when you get Medicaid is to address two of the main myths:
I. They take all of your income.
This is not necessarily true. Once you’re approved for Medicaid, they will calculate you Patient Monthly Liability (PML). This is the amount you will be liable to pay to the facility. Your PML will be calculated based on your cost of care and income, from whatever source. Depending on what level of care you’re receiving e.g. assisted living or nursing home care, you will receive a nominal monthly allowance between $30 and $60 per month.
The PML will eat up most to all of the income unless you have a spouse or a dependent family member who resides with your spouse. If either applies, you can divert your monthly income to your spouse and dependents up to a maximum limit of $3,0161. For example, your spouse makes $1,000 a month but their cost of living is $6,000 per month, you can divert your income to your spouse to cover the difference between their income and cost of living up to the maximum amount i.e. in this example $2,161 can be diverted.
II. They can take your home.
This too is a half-truth. The home, your principal place of residence, will not count as an asset for Medicaid purposes. Thus, when they count up your assets to see if you qualify, the home typically won’t be included in that calculation. Thus, before qualification and while you are receiving Medicaid, they can’t just come in and take your home.
Where your home is at risk is when you pass away. The Medicaid death penalty—the amount that the government can recover from you when you die—can come in and use your home to pay back Medicaid. However, there are ways to protect this like a Ladybird Deed.
Getting qualified for Medicaid doesn’t mean you lose your home and all of your income. You should know the rules to protect your family and property. If you have questions about Medicaid and long-term care, our experienced attorneys can help. Call McIntyre Elder Law at (704) 259-7040.
Brenton S. Begley
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
“We help seniors maintain their lifestyle and preserve their legacies.”
PO Box 165
Shelby, NC 28151-0165