‘Tis the season to give and receive, but did you know that this can have significant consequences if you need to apply for Medicaid in the next three to five years? Can gifts impact Medicaid eligibility? Yes, this can have impacts for both the giver and receiver.
Regarding the gift giver, it should be noted that the IRS allows a tax-free annual gift of fifteen thousand dollars per person with an unlimited amount of donees. In other words, a wealthy donor could gift away over a million tax free dollars per year by gifting a hundred different people the maximum fifteen thousand dollars.
It can be vital, however, to understand these are tax laws and Medicaid takes a different stance on gifting in terms of Medicaid eligibility. When a person’s assets are reviewed for Medicaid eligibility, this includes a “Look-Back” period of thirty to sixty months, depending upon the state. If it is discovered that the Medicaid applicant has gifted money in order to be eligible for Medicaid, the penalty is Medicaid ineligibility. The length of time of ineligibility is determined by the amount of the gift and the average cost of a private pay nursing home in the area.
A person deemed ineligible for Medicaid due to gift giving has some options. It is possible for the gifter to collect the gift back, or reimbursement, in order to “un-do” the penalty. Even if possession of the money makes them ineligible for Medicaid, they can spend it down by temporarily paying for long-term care or making a home modification related to their disability until they reach eligibility status. There may also be a possibility of an undue hardship waiver, if Medicaid ineligibility will cause the person to go without medical care, food or shelter.
There may also be important impacts on the gift receiver. All states have an asset limit to be Medicaid eligible and it is not very high. In fact, many states have limits falling in the range of fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars. Even a small gift can push a Medicaid recipient over the eligibility limit. Any gift received must be spent within a month in order to avoid affecting Medicaid eligibility. A Medicaid recipient has options if they receive a gift. They can pay off debt, purchase a funeral trust or a Medicaid eligible annuity. If money is received before applying for Medicaid, the money can also be spent down in a similar fashion.
If you will be giving or receiving money or other assets this holiday season and anticipate this may impact your Medicaid eligibility or someone else’s, contact our office to discuss your options.
At any given time, the majority of elder caregiving is performed by family members. Often, though, the elder’s health declines to the point that paid outside care services can be required for him or her. Whether due to an illness, like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury or simply old age, the demands of elder health care can exceed even the most dedicated family caregiver’s capacity to give.
Shifting to paid care can be emotionally difficult, even when it is obvious that it is in an elder loved one’s best interest. A healthy transition can induce feelings of failure and guilt, especially if a senior loved one values his or her independence and resists.
Statements like, “I don’t need any help,” or, “I don’t want a stranger in my house,” can be crushing when you are trying to help. Just like a parent looks after the best interests of a young child, an adult child may need to look after the best interests of his or her elder parent.
Let us share a few suggestions for you to consider when launching into a paid caregiver dynamic:
Reassure an elder loved one that hiring help does not mean that you are going to abandon him or her.
Be present for initial meetings between the caregiver and an aging loved one to help establish rapport.
Show outside caregivers how to do things in ways that are familiar and pleasing to the senior adult to help them feel comfortable.
Tell an elder loved one that working with a care provider is something they can do to take part in his or her own care.
Include an elder loved one in the caregiver process by asking him or her to try it out for a week, and then listen to feedback.
When selecting caregivers, try to find a personality or cultural match to create a sense of common ground, although cultural differences also make for interesting combinations.
Once the relationship is established always check-in to keep an eye on things.
Above all, an elder loved one’s quality of life, and therefore, quality of care, is the most important objective in any caregiver relationship, whether family or paid. Feelings of guilt can be overcome in taking steps to achieve this important objective. We work with families each day to solve challenges just like the one described here. Let us know how we can help you and your loved ones today.
As we age, our bodies experience a number of changes, particularly in the way it functions. Tasks that were once easy to accomplish, such as getting dressed, bathing, eating, and generally getting around, may be more difficult to perform. These can be difficult changes for your senior loved one to accept, and they may feel hesitant to lean on you for assistance. We know how important the safety of your loved one is, which is why we want to share with you a few tips to help your senior loved one successfully and comfortable navigate daily activities and tasks.
First, it is important to evaluate your senior loved one’s specific needs. Not every senior experiences the same difficulties, and your loved one may feel embarrassed to share their challenges with you. We encourage you to monitor your loved one moving around and performing daily tasks, like eating and getting themselves ready. It is important to remember that the tasks your loved one finds challenging may change as he or she continues to age. If you feel more comfortable hiring a professional to evaluate your loved one’s needs, there are home assistance personnel who can monitor your loved one for you.
If your senior loved one does not have a daily routine in place, it may be time to help them create one. This can add stability to your loved one’s life and avoid causing him or her unnecessary stress. Having a routine can help your loved one feel more comfortable navigating daily tasks, as he or she will follow the same steps each day.
Unfortunately, sometimes your senior loved one may need more help than you can provide. As difficult as it can be to think about moving your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility, sometimes it is in his or her best interest to do so. If your loved one is still mostly functional and healthy, a home caregiver may be able to provide the care he or she needs. If your loved one has worsening health conditions and frequently falls, these may be signs that he or she would benefit from living in a care facility.
Encouraging your senior loved one to lean on you for support can significantly improve his or her quality of life. If you have questions or if you are ready to discuss a plan for your loved one’s long-term care, do not wait to contact our office to meet with experienced Elder Law attorney, Scott Selis.