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Answers To Your Medicaid Questions


As of October 1, 2020, new applicants for Home Care Benefits from Medicaid in New York City will be subject to a financial look-back period of 2.5 years during submission. Applicants before this time will be exempt from the look-back. Contact us with further questions about this change.

What Is Medicaid?

The purpose of Medicaid is to assist individuals with medical costs who may have limited income or resources. Funding for Medicaid comes from both the state and the federal government. Managing Medicaid is a responsibility of every state. Each state has broad discretion in deciding who is eligible for Medicaid benefits.

In New York, Medicaid recipients must be U.S. citizens or legal immigrants with over five years of residency in the U.S. Recipients must also be current residents of our state.

When Can I Start Setting Up Medicaid?

Medicaid is available for individuals of all ages who meet the requirements. You don’t have to wait for a specific age to apply for benefits.

Can I Still Collect From Medicaid While Taking Steps To Take Care Of My Future Beneficiaries?

If someone has assets that you want to protect, access to Medicaid can be helpful. Under the right circumstances, an individual can shelter assets in a trust for your beneficiaries while you access Medicaid benefits to help pay for your daily expenses.

You will need to take such steps with care. If the authorities suspect that you still have access to finances while still trying to collect Medicaid, you could face charges of Medicaid fraud. It might be necessary to have the services of a knowledgeable Medicaid and elder law attorney to conduct Medicaid planning properly.

Is There A Time Limit To Set Up Medicaid For Someone?

It’s never too late to implement Medicaid. What is important is to have a plan in place to qualify for Medicaid. Due to recent legislation, qualifying for Medicaid benefits is not automatic. Earlier and better planning increases the chances of receiving the benefits you need and deserve.

I’m Told I Have To Wait Five Years To Protect Anything When Setting Up Medicaid.

Social services will have the ability to look back at our financial transactions and investigate any activity going back five years before applying for coverage. The purpose of such an investigation is to ensure that you did not transfer any assets for less than they are worth within this five-year period. Disposal of such assets in this manner can lead to the imposition of penalties and possible ineligibility for Medicaid coverage.

There are multiple options to help reduce to this wait time, however. Depending upon your circumstances and with the right planning, there may be no wait time at all. For example, you may be able to protect assets through the use of a pooled income trust.

However, it is important to be careful when transferring assets or property. Such transfers will be closely scrutinized. And you will wish to have still enough assets that you retain ownership in to pay for your needs while the five-year look-back period is in place. Because there are several requirements regarding the protection of assets, it is extremely helpful to speak to an elder law lawyer who can advise you regarding your various options.

Are There Other Alternatives To Long-Term Care Other Than Medicaid?

Sometimes you can use your life insurance to help pay your bills if you get sick before you pass away. At one point, receiving life insurance proceeds could disqualify you from receiving Medicaid benefits. However, because of recent changes to the law, that is no longer necessarily the case. Nevertheless, there are certain steps you will need to take in spending down the amount of cash value you have in a life insurance policy to comply with Medicaid rules.

It may be possible to protect these proceeds by setting up an irrevocable life insurance trust. This is complicated. It is important to speak to an attorney who understands these instruments, and who understands tax compliance requirements and the laws for eligibility regarding such a trust.

Can I Set Up Medicaid For Someone I’m Not Married To Or Related To By Blood?

Yes, you can set up Medicaid for just about anyone. Pending the relationship, there are several available options. For spouses, terms likely will be more flexible than with other relations.