Applying for Medicaid nursing home or home care is an extremely complex process - one with potential complications not often evident at first glance. The rules and regulations relevant to Medicaid eligibility also change frequently and vary by state. Securing the services of a seasoned elder law attorney is imperative to ensure the most favorable outcome.
There are many instances when utilizing an experienced attorney can make a significant difference. For example, the Medicaid applicant's spouse may need to execute a spousal refusal in order for the applicant to successfully obtain Medicaid (a spousal refusal allows the well spouse to retain resources and income above the levels ordinarily permitted). Once a spousal refusal has been executed, however, the well spouse will be subjected to a potential lawsuit by the Department of Social Services. Knowing one's legal rights and options in the face of a potential suit is critical.
Additionally, there are legal arguments that can be made with regard to the transfer of assets by the Medicaid applicant that would avoid the implementation of a potentially onerous penalty period. When someone other than an elder law attorney handles the Medicaid nursing home application, however, these opportunities are almost always overlooked.
It's also important to consider that the application process for Medicaid nursing home or home care is one that typically takes several months as further documentation and explanations are often required. Medicaid officials may require up to five years of financial records and will closely examine every detail. Any unexplained or questionable expenses - even those that are part of routine planning - can disqualify the applicant if not properly handled. In most cases, elder law attorneys are able to complete this process much faster, saving the applicant a significant amount in care expenses.
There is also post Medicaid eligibility planning, which is often needed (and which a non-attorney cannot advise upon). The failure to properly make these arguments and to be in a position to get the proper legal representation provided by an experienced elder law attorney can result in tens of thousands of dollars being unnecessarily spent by the applicant and his or her family.