White Plains Elder Law Attorney Highlights Medicaid Homecare Program as Viable Option for Family Caregivers

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National Family Caregivers Month Raises Awareness of Financial and Emotional Hardships

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time in which we not only honor the hard work and sacrifice of caregivers, but also learn about important programs and services that foster financial and emotional well-being for both those in need and their caregivers.

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 27 percent of senior citizens in the U.S. lived alone in 2008, leaving the rest to lean on the assistance of others. Caregivers know better than anyone else about the physical and emotional toll associated with providing for those in need. Too often, however, they do not know how to defray the significant financial costs.

The Medicaid homecare program is often a readily available option for many. Unlike the Medicaid nursing home program, the transfer of asset rules – which have a five year look back period for eligibility – do not apply to the Medicaid homecare program. In other words, if one transfers his assets to become eligible for Medicaid homecare, there is no period of ineligibility. However, unless he is making an exempt transfer – such as a transfer to his spouse – then the five year look back period for nursing home Medicaid will be created by the transfer. In addition, spousal refusal is permitted for Medicaid homecare, meaning a spouse can refuse to utilize his income and assets to support his spouse.

The applicant for Medicaid homecare cannot have more than $13,800 in his name either alone or jointly with another, and he is not permitted to have more than $767 per month of income (plus a $20 disregard). However, if his income is in excess of the $767 per month, there is a special pooled trust that can be utilized so that the excess income can be used to pay expenses other than homecare costs, such as taxes, food, clothing, taxes, telephone, cable, shelter, etc. Additionally, in determining the number of homecare hours that will be provided, the applicant’s ability to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, ambulating, personal hygiene and feeding will be assessed by Medicaid. The less one can do, the more hours of care he may receive.

All too often the cost of homecare without any assistance being provided by Medicaid can be financially devastating. It is not unusual for homecare costs to range from $6,000 to $8,000 per month depending on the number of hours needed. While most people know that Medicaid exists, many do not realize that they may actually qualify for it and receive in-home care that will provide most, if not all, of the care they require. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about Medicaid eligibility, which often leads to poor decisions.

Even if you are not currently a caregiver, it is a good idea to start addressing the present and future costs of long-term care, especially since there are steps you can take in advance to make sure you qualify for Medicaid. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, I urge you to be prepared and to be informed. It has been my experience that the better the quality of care an individual receives at home, the longer he or she can continue to reside at home.

About Anthony J. Enea,Esq. and Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Anthony J. Enea, Esq. is an AV preeminent rated elder attorney with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. They concentrate on Elder law; Medicaid Planning, Applications and Law; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; and Special Needs Planning.
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors and the disabled.Please contact Anthony J. Enea, Esq. at 914-948-1500 or Visit the firm online at http://www.esslawfirm.com and http://www.westchesterseniors.com.

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