The high costs of long-term care cause difficult financial decisions for many families. Many people think they have too many assets to qualify for government assistance any they deplete their savings and pay out-of-pocket for their long-term care. With careful Medicaid Planning, you may be able to receive the financial help you need without losing your assets. Whether someone needs a lawyer to qualify for Medicaid in Florida depends on the applicant’s marital status, financial holdings and the complexity of the person’s estate.
In theory, Florida Medicaid provides health coverage for those with low incomes who might otherwise be forced to forfeit their wellbeing due to the exorbitant cost of healthcare. However, the cost of medical care for anyone living above the income eligibility limits can be enormous, especially for the elderly who require nursing home or long-term care.
While the law does not require you to hire a lawyer to qualify for Medicaid in Florida, the application process can be complex. Furthermore, lawyers can help those in need of Medicaid who are above the financial qualification threshold rearrange and protect their assets in order for their application to be approved.
In this article, we demystify common misconceptions and answer some FAQs about Medicaid Planning in Florida.
Who decides if I qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
In Florida, two different agencies will determine your Medicaid eligibility. The Department of Elder Affairs decides whether you are sick enough to qualify, and the Department of Children and Families determines your financial eligibility.
What are the eligibility requirements to qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
To qualify for Medicaid in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a resident of the State of Florida in need of health care/insurance aid, whose financial condition is characterized as low income or extremely low income
- Either be a national or citizen of the United States or have acceptable immigration status
- Be older than 64 years of age; or
- Be pregnant, or have a child 18 years-old or younger; or
- Have a family member (parent, spouse, or child) in your house who is blind or disabled.
- Must earn less than $2,328 per month
- Possess less than $2,000 worth of combined assets.
What do I need to apply for Medicaid in Florida?
You will need to provide paperwork to document the following Florida Medicaid requirements:
- Proof of age and citizenship.
- Proof of income sources, including; pay stubs, tax returns, social security, supplementary security income, and veteran benefits, if any.
- Proof of assets, including; bank accounts, retirement accounts, and trusts.
Should I hire a lawyer to help me qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
The application process to qualify for Medicaid in Florida for people under the age of 65 and not in need of long-term care is relatively easy. It’s more complicated for those over 65 years old who are in need of a nursing home or long-term care coverage – especially if they possess countable assets over $2,000. For this reason, consulting a Medicaid Planning Attorney to review your assets, help you come up with an asset protection strategy and submit an application for Medicaid in Florida is recommended.
As an elder, how can a lawyer help me qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
Elders above the financial qualification threshold may not be able to afford long-term healthcare unless they have unlimited assets, investments or savings to sustain them through old age. A lawyer can help you qualify for Medicaid in Florida by rearranging your assets and income. This includes setting up trusts and estate plans, drafting wills and giving monetary gifts before applying for Medicaid so that you qualify to receive help with the cost of nursing home and long-term care facilities.
Is it legal to make asset transfers to qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
Yes, asset transfers are legal when handled properly. However, Congress has established an ineligibility “look-back” period of 60 months for all transfers. Therefore, asset transfers should be made at least five years before applying for Medicaid. If not, the penalty incurred could extend beyond 5 years, depending on the value of the asset. This is why we recommend consulting an experienced Medicaid Planning Attorney to assess your situation and help you to develop a sound application strategy.
Will all my transfers be reviewed when I apply for Medicaid?
No. Asset transfers to the following persons will not be counted against your Medicaid eligibility:
- A spouse
- A child younger than 21-years-old
- A permanently disabled or blind person
- An adult child who lives in the home, and has provided care to the applicant for at least two years before the submission of the Medicaid application
- A sibling who has an equity interest in the home and has been living in the home for one year prior to the submission of the Medicaid application
Do I have to give up all my assets to qualify for Medicaid in Florida?
No, some assets are exempt from Medicaid qualifications. However, there are various mechanisms like annuities, irrevocable trusts and promissory notes that can be used to protect your property from counting against your eligibility, while simultaneously reducing the size of your countable Medicaid assets.
What if my Medicaid application was already denied?
If your application was denied it could be for a variety of reasons. An Elder Law attorney knowledgeable in Estate Planning and Medicaid qualifications can help you understand why you’ve been denied Medicaid benefits and help you reapply.
As you can see, the process to qualify for Medicaid in Florida requires forethought and planning. An experienced Elder Law & Medicaid Planning Attorney at The Siegel Law Group in Florida can help. Our high level of service and expertise during the Medicaid planning and application phase can help you qualify for Medicaid in Florida.
DISCLAIMER: It is illegal for non-attorneys to do some aspects of Medicaid planning in several states. Florida residents are in good hands with the help of our experienced Elder Law Medicaid attorneys at The Siegel Law Group.
Trusted and Compassionate Florida Elder Law and Medicaid Planning Attorney
After a lifetime of hard work, you and your family deserve Peace Of Mind and protection in your senior years. With 20 years of Medicaid Planning experience, South Florida Attorney Barry D. Siegel at The Siegel Law Group, P.A., knows firsthand what can happen if you are unprepared for life’s greatest challenges. A knowledgeable Medicaid Planning Attorney can provide legal guidance about the application process. Call us toll-free at 855-FLA-ESTATE or at 561-955-8515 or schedule a free consultation.