The Edge of Eligibility

Living On The Edge of Eligibility

For many frail, elderly Floridians, eligibility to programs such as Medicaid and Veteran pensions can make the difference between being able to afford to live at home or being forced into a nursing home in order to receive care.

Medicaid offers several eligibility programs for those in need of nursing homes, assisted living or home based services. Veterans who served during war time and who meet certain criteria may be entitled to financial benefits and /or services through the VA.  Programs and pensions such as Aid and Attendance are “Needs Based” government programs available to those who qualify.

What does it take to qualify? Many who are in need of these programs sit just on the edge eligibility. They may be just slightly over the income or asset limit and are told that they do not qualify. What these middle income seniors do not know is that there are ways to BECOME eligible and the government employees at Medicaid and the VA are not obligated to educate anyone about the ways to become eligible.  Seniors and their family who do try to do their own research often report that they feel they are getting the “run around”. The truth is, even if the government employees do know how to guide someone to become eligible, it is not their job and it is illegal for them to offer legal advice. The amount of time and effort that is needed to assess a senior’s individual situation and educate them and their family about eligibility can be extensive.

The most productive step a person or family can take is to enlist the help of a professional. Elder Law attorneys can help you develop a plan to meet the immediate needs and create a long range plan for the future. Peace of mind comes from knowing all of your options and deciding on a course of action. Many people do not know that they need an Elder Law Attorney until they are already in crisis. Your elder Law Attorney can assist you at the last minute, but so much more can be done to help if you have the luxury of planning in advance.

Sometimes a senior may only require a few legal documents and a few changes to their financial arrangements in order to protect assets while avoiding any penalties of the infamous “look back period.”  Medicaid has a look back period of five years and the VA has a look back period of three years.

If you have transferred or given away assets within the look back period, an Elder Law attorney can help and offer solutions.

You may also find that and Elder Law attorney will generally have the resources and connections in the health care industry that ensure your needs are met by qualified, trusted companies and professionals such as home health companies, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, care managers, financial planners, accountants and others.

If you are interested in finding out about how you or a loved one could apply or become eligible for government assistance through the VA, Social Security or Medicaid contact an Elder Law attorney today.

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