Florida Government Benefit Planning Attorneys

Our Florida government benefit planning attorneys can help you with Medicaid planning, asset protection, and life care planning.

Making Community-Based Care (a/k/a Nursing Home or Assisted Living) More Affordable

The cost of nursing home care in Florida can be devastating to a family that has not properly planned for this expense. To give you an idea, the Florida Health Care Association and AARP estimate that families pay about $90,000 – $100,000 per year to care for a loved one in a nursing home facility.  AARP has a great tool you can you use to find out how much community based care will cost in your community.

One way to offset this cost is to plan, so that your elderly loved one can qualify for Medicaid’s Institutional Care Program when the time comes.  Nearly all Nursing Homes accept Medicaid, and the patient can select whichever community they want.  The government rates nursing homes, and some are 5-star communities.

Medicaid planning should be a key part of any long-term elder care strategy, particularly because there are strict income and asset limits a person has to meet to qualify. But before you and your family start moving money around, it is crucial that you speak with a qualified Florida Senior Care planning attorney that specializes in Medicaid to help you devise a smart and comprehensive strategy for making long-term care more affordable.

At Chiumento Selis Dwyer P.L., our knowledgeable Florida Medicaid and Senior Care planning attorneys have more than 40 years of experience helping families prepare to care for elderly relatives. We have deep roots in Flagler and Volusia counties, and we take pride in making sure generation after generation is taken care of. Our skilled elder law attorneys can advise you on:

  • Smart strategies for legally protecting your assets and income when applying or qualifying for Medicaid
  • Advance planning you should be doing now to take advantage of Medicaid benefits later
  • Actions you can still take, even if you or your loved one is already in a nursing home

If you and your family are facing the astronomical costs of full-time, long-term care for a loved one, our compassionate Medicaid planning attorneys are here to help. Let us show you how to make that care more affordable without sacrificing their legacy. Contact us today to get started.

Who Is Eligible For Medicaid?

Who Is Eligible For Medicaid?

Many people think of Medicaid as the joint federal-state program that provides medical coverage to low-income people and families. However, Florida residents may also qualify for Medicaid to help cover nursing home room, board, and care. But there are still strict financial eligibility standards to qualify for this type of Medicaid. These include:

  • An income limit of $2,199 for an individual (or $4,398 for a couple in care)
  • An asset limit of $2,000 for an individual (or $3,000 for a couple in care)
  • An asset limit of $119,220 for a spouse who is not in long-term care

In order for you or a loved one to qualify for Medicaid coverage for nursing home care, a doctor must also determine that long-term care is medically necessary. However, even if you are not at that point in your life, it is important to consult with a savvy Florida Medicaid planning attorney now so you are well-positioned to take advantage of these government benefits when the time comes.

What If My Income Or Assets Are Over The Limit To Qualify For Medicaid?

This is one of the primary reasons you need a qualified Medicaid planning lawyer. Adjusting your income and assets to meet the Medicaid requirements can be complicated, and you don’t want to make mistakes that could cost you.

If your income is above the limit required to qualify for Medicaid:

  • One of our knowledgeable elder care attorneys can help you set up a Qualified Income Trust (QIT). Each month, you deposit a portion of your income into this trust, with the goal of reducing your remaining income amount to below the limit needed to qualify for Medicaid. In turn, money from the trust is used to pay part of your Medicaid costs each month.
  • Depending on the situation, the spouse may also be able to retain a portion of the institutionalized person’s monthly income.

If your assets are above the limit required to qualify for Medicaid:

  • Many people incorrectly assume that they can gift assets in order to help them qualify for Medicaid. That is not recommended, as the government has strict rules on asset transfers. In fact, in what’s referred to as the “look-back period,” the agency reviews your asset transfers during the five years prior to your application for Medicaid benefits. Problematic transfers could result in a “penalty period” during which you cannot receive benefits.
  • Additionally, many people don’t consider what would happen to their money if a responsible loved one holding their life’s savings dies, becomes incapacitated, gets sued, files for bankruptcy or gets divorced. If any of these things happen, your loved ones money might be forever lost.
  • Our Florida Medicaid planning attorneys can help you and your family develop a strategic “spend-down” plan for your countable assets, such as paying off a mortgage or buying a new, more reliable car. With decades of experience developing these types of plans, our lawyers will ensure your strategy is legally sound and appropriately timed to maximize asset protection.

Contact us now to set up a time to discuss your family’s needs and learn how we can help protect your loved one.

What Assets Can Be Protected?

What Assets Can Be Protected?In calculating your assets, you will generally be counting money in checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, property other than your main home, and vehicles (if you have more than one).

However, the Administration on Aging outlines that some assets do not get counted, including:

  • Your primary residence (assuming it is your homestead)
  • Personal property and belongings
  • One vehicle
  • Life insurance with a value of less than $2,500
  • Up to $2,500 saved for burial expenses, as well as certain burial arrangements
  • Assets kept in specific kinds of trusts

Our smart and strategic Florida Medicaid planning attorneys will walk you and your family through the rules and regulations that affect asset management. We will also help you craft a plan that looks at the big picture for long-term care.

When Should I Start Medicaid Planning?

Medicaid planning should be part of your family’s overall long-term life care strategy, which means you should be thinking about it well before you are in the position of needing it. When you and your family sit down with one of our qualified Florida elder law attorneys, we will help you develop a comprehensive strategy that includes:

  • Estate planning
  • Wills and trusts
  • Guardianship decisions
  • Medicaid planning and application assistance
  • VA Aid and Attendance Benefits (if you qualify)

Although you cannot apply for Medicaid until you or your loved one needs long-term care in a nursing home or community care facility, planning ahead can make the application process much easier. However, even if you have not made plans but are at the point of needing nursing home care, or if your loved one is already in a nursing home, our savvy Florida Medicaid planning lawyers can help identify a strategy that makes sense for your family.

Understanding Medicaid Terminology

Understanding Medicaid TerminologyLooking at Medicaid application paperwork can be like looking into a bowl of alphabet soup. There are so many complicated acronyms, anyone could get frustrated trying to decipher what they mean.

Below are some of the more common terms you may hear or come across as you explore the Medicaid application process.

CARES – Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services
Community Spouse – A spouse who is not living in a nursing home
CSRA – Community Spouse Resource Allowance
DCF – Florida Department of Children and Families (responsible for determining Medicaid eligibility)
HCBS – Home and Community Based Services
HMO – Health Maintenance Organization
ICP – Institutional Care Program
LTC – Long-Term Care
MAGI – Modified Adjusted Gross Income
MEDS-AD – Medicaid for the Aged or Disabled
MMMNA – Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (for a community spouse)
PACE – Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
PSN – Provider Service Network
QIT – Qualified Income Trust
SMMC – Statewide Medicaid Managed Care

You don’t need to be intimidated when the time comes to apply for Medicaid. Our knowledgeable Florida Medicaid planning attorneys can manage the application process, including any appeals, if necessary. And we are always here to answer your questions.

What Is The Difference Between Medicaid And Medicare?

Many seniors are accustomed to Medicare, which provides health insurance that can cover doctor visits, hospital stays, short-term rehabilitative care, and medications. Those who paid into the Medicare system are generally able to start taking advantage of these benefits at age 65 (or if they become disabled). However, Medicare does not cover long-term care in a nursing home.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a needs-based program that does cover long-term care. However, you have to show that you qualify for these benefits based on income, assets, and medical needs.

Why Do You Need An Attorney For Medicaid Planning?

There are people out there who position themselves as being Medicaid experts but not attorneys. Beware of people who may be trying to sell your family insurance and annuities, without having the intention or the experience to help you develop a comprehensive long-term care plan.  Moreover, according to the Florida Supreme Court, any non-attorney providing advice about how to qualify for Medicaid is practicing law without a license.  And that’s a felony.

In addition, although a nursing home social worker may know a lot about applying for Medicaid in general, you cannot count on this type of professional to give you advice that is tailored to your family’s specific financial situation.

Schedule a consultation with us today to discuss your family’s needs. We have offices in Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, and Deland. However, we often visit with clients in their homes or in medical facilities, whatever is easiest for you.

We’re Proud to be Involved in the Community

Chiumento Selis Dwyer, P.L. has contributed to schools and other organizations that have made a difference in the community and take pride in portraying an active role in our community. Flagler County hosts an array of events and we are proud to be a part of many of them!

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