In a recent interview, leading Estate Planning Attorney Dennis Toman, founder at The Elderlaw Firm in Greensboro, NC, debunked myths concerning Medicaid and nursing home fees. —
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When asked for a comment, he said, "As people get older and their health declines, they might need long-term care, which can become costly without the help of Medicaid. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to speed on the facts about applying and qualifying for Medicaid."
One major misconception is that people are unable to keep their income if their spouse is receiving Medicaid benefits for nursing home expenses.
“One of the most important things to keep in mind is that your income will be handled separately in Medicaid matters. The money and property owned by both spouses will indeed be taken into consideration when it comes to qualifying for
Medicaid,” he said.
Toman pointed to the fact that North Carolina only looks at the applicant’s income – which includes pension and social security – in determining Medicaid eligibility.
Another myth surrounding Medicaid is that everyone’s Medicaid experience is the same.
When asked to explain further, Toman said, "A lot of what people hear about Medicaid comes from their friends. However, this isn't the best way to obtain accurate information. Everyone's situation varies, particularly from state to state."
He further explained that many people are afraid they won't qualify for Medicaid, but several factors are taken into consideration, such as age, income bracket, assets, as well as the level of care needed.
One other major Medicaid misconception is that individuals don't have to be concerned with Medicaid planning.
When asked to elaborate, he said, "Many of my clients don't realize just how costly long-term nursing care can be, so it's important to start the process of preparing for the possibility of Medicare assistance early. The earlier we begin, the more
money we'll be able to protect."
On the other extreme, many individuals who have moved to a nursing residence assume that it's too late to begin planning for Medicaid.
"Even if you or your loved one has already used funds to pay for care at a nursing facility, there could still be time for Medicaid
planning. This is particularly the case for anyone married," he added.
The best thing to do, according to Toman, is to consult with a seasoned Elder Law Attorney to help get an accurate financial picture and understand the best way to move forward.
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