Charlotte Medicaid Attorney
Medicaid is a combination federal/state program that provides financial
assistance for medical care to qualified individuals. Most people who
require long-term care will ultimately need to apply for long-term care
Medicaid assistance. Once obtained, Medicaid pays the difference between
your income and the cost of nursing home care.
The qualification requirements for Medicaid are complicated, confusing,
and vary greatly by state. Many people make disastrous financial transactions
prior to seeking legal counsel and applying for Medicaid. In many cases,
these mistakes can cost thousands of dollars and/or several years’
delay in qualifying. So it is crucial to seek guidance from a dedicated
elder law attorney before beginning this process.
NC Medicaid Qualifications
When determining financial qualification for Medicaid, attention must be
paid to both assets and income. In North Carolina, the Medicaid applicant
is only allowed to have $2000 in “countable” assets. If an
asset is not “countable” its value is not included in the
$2000 limit. In general, “countable” assets include cash,
stocks, real estate, CDs, boats, and most IRAs.
In most cases, the Medicaid applicant’s home is not a countable asset.
In North Carolina, the applicant’s intention to return home makes
the home non-countable. Even if it is unlikely that the applicant will
be able to return home, the mere intent is enough to protect the asset.
Even if there is no intention of returning home, it is not countable if
his or her spouse or dependent lives there.
If the applicant is married, the spouse (referred to as the community spouse)
is allowed to keep up to half of the couple’s combined assets, up
to a maximum of $117,240 (2015 limit). NC Medicaid law dictates the date
upon which the asset value is determined, which, in some cases, is years
before the Medicaid application. Therefore, it is important not to transfer
assets or pay off debts in anticipation of Medicaid qualification before
speaking with a Charlotte elder law attorney.
When determining Medicaid eligibility, only the applicant’s income
is considered. The spouse may have any amount of income and it will have
no bearing on the applicant’s eligibility. However, if the applicant’s
income is more than the long-term care facility’s private pay rate,
he or she is ineligible for Medicaid. If the income is lower, the applicant
may qualify, but must use all but a small portion on his or her income
to pay the facility and Medicaid will pay the difference, based on the
When considering income, Medicaid uses the “name on the check”
rule. Thus, the income belongs to whomever is listed on the check. All
income counts including wages, retirement income, social security, pensions, etc.
Medicaid Asset Protection
When considering eligibility for Medicaid, there are both countable and
Medicaid asset protection is the process of evaluating income and assets and devising strategies
within the Medicaid rules to secure as much of your property as allowed
so that it is not countable for Medicaid purposes. Some of those strategies
include establishing trusts, making gifts or loans, purchasing annuities,
using countable assets to purchase non-countable items, obtaining long-term
care insurance, making home repairs, etc.
There are very specific rules which must be followed when taking actions
to protect assets. Errors in approach and improper timing can cause significant
penalties, during which time you may be ineligible for Medicaid assistance.
Prior to making any transfers, it is crucial to obtain assistance from
a qualified Charlotte elder law attorney.
Applying for Medicaid
In North Carolina, Medicaid is administered by the Division of Medical
Assistance division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Applications
are made to local county Department of Social Services. Application procedures
vary by county, and in most cases, extensive documentation is required.
You must be prepared to document all of your current assets and income
as well as the past five years on financial transactions. Failure to provide
all required documentation can result in lengthy delays or denial of what
would be an otherwise approvable application. Proper legal guidance is
essential in ensuring that proper procedure are followed, thereby maximizing
your chances for approval.
Get in touch with KYA Elder Law for the help you need!