I have recently heard from a couple prospective clients that have been advised from social workers, nursing home administrators, and even Florida elder law attorneys that you have to spend all your assets down to $2000 (for a single person) on nursing home care before you can receive Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care. In other words, if you have $200,000 in savings, some folks have heard that you have to pay the nursing home $9,000 a month until all $200,000 are gone before they can receive Medicaid to pay for the nursing home.
Medicaid spenddown of assets is a myth
It frankly would not be fair if this was true. If you worked full-time all your life to build up your retirement nest egg, why shouldn’t you be given the same benefit as someone who did not save for their own retirement or care. In my opinion, it should be everyone gets it or nobody gets it. Neither are realistic these days, but the government has given us a set of laws to work with to creatively cover for the savers without the asset spenddown to receive Florida ICP Medicaid.
No, you do not have to spend all your assets to zero. You have three options: 1) stay healthy and pass in your sleep at home; 2) see an elder law lawyer now while you are healthy regarding your long-term planning options; or 3) your family sees an elder law lawyer when you need nursing home care.
1) Longevity of Life - I am being tongue in cheek on this one, so I hope I don’t offend anyone. If you are lucky enough to have perfect genes, good diet and exercise, and preventative care throughout your life, maybe you could chance it without planning.
2) Medicaid Pre-Planning –are trained regarding the Medicaid rules and with trust and estate planning law. There are special Medicaid preplanning techniques that elder care attorneys utilize to protect assets. If you plan early enough and you are not caught by the Medicaid transfer look back period, you can protect as much assets as you want while maintaining control over your assets.
3) Medicaid Crisis Planning - elder care attorneys deal with another set of Medicaid rules once a person needs to admitted to a nursing home and has not taken care of the Medicaid pre-planning that I discussed above. There are many techniques to save assets from the spenddown. Of course you can spenddown your assets on house repairs, debt repaying, and the good old Medicaid Cadillac, but more advanced techniques can save, in the best case scenario, everything for a married couple or half in the case of a single person.
You can request a complementaryletter from my office if you are interested in learn about what you can save and protect from nursing home costs.