A government report shows that up to 21% of seniors hide their assets to help qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term nursing care (GAO-05-968) . Nursing home care can cost up to $70,000 a year, so people can quickly deplete their savings accounts. Medicare only covers 100 days of skilled nursing care. Once all the patient’s funds are gone, Medicaid kicks in to cover the bill. There is a certain amount of income that is not counted in qualifying for Medicaid and when a spouse is involved there are even more rules and exemptions. Homes, automobiles, furnishings, and certain income are exempt, but all of this varies from state to state. You are legally allowed to transfer money up to 36 months and up to 60 months for certain irrevocable trusts. That is the time period Medicaid will review your finances to see if you qualify for coverage. It is illegal to hide assets from Medicaid, and to intentionally transfer the assets to qualify for Medicaid. You can do an internet search for
?Medicaid Planning which will turn up several publications and information regarding what the rules are for your state. Some basic rules can be found at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/home/medicaid.asp, although you will need to contact your state
directly to find out specifics for your state. You can also locate some specific information at www.elderlawanswers.com which provides rules for each state. Senior legal hotlines can answer your questions and put you in contact with people who can assist you in estate
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