Elder Law

Elder Law Attorneys: How To Pick The Right One

The high cost of long-term care has made planning a critically important issue for most middle-class seniors and their families. In fact, most seniors will likely require some form of long-term care. Sadly, many of them are unprepared for the significant financial burdens it places on their family’s hard-earned savings. Financial devastation looms large for a family facing ongoing care at a rate of $10,000 or more per month.

Long-Term Care Options

While some seniors are able to afford private pay care, the cost of long-term care will wipe out savings of all but the wealthiest families in a matter of years. Those who have planned ahead by purchasing long-term care insurance have a degree of certainty and peace of mind knowing that they have a lesser need to rely on other sources in the future. Unfortunately, many can’t afford the high cost of long-term care insurance or worse, because of age or medical condition cannot qualify for long-term care insurance altogether. If you do have long-term care insurance, you should be aware of what your policy covers. Many policies have high deductibles or provide for only a short period of care in a facility. In fact, many who have long-term care insurance still have to resort to Medicaid to pay for their care.

Medicaid Eligibility

The other option to pay for care is Medicaid. A joint federal-state program, Medicaid provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including those who are 65 or older, disabled or blind. Medicaid is the single largest payer of nursing home bills in America and serves as the option of last resort for people who have no other way to finance their long-term care. Although Medicaid eligibility rules vary from state to state, federal minimum standards and guidelines must be observed.

While Medicaid eligibility with respect to long-term care was not difficult in the past, there has been a steady drift towards more complex and restrictive rules, the latest being the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which went into effect in 2006. These changes have resulted in complex eligibility requirements for those in need of Medicaid benefits. It’s no longer as easy as reviewing one’s bank statements. There are a myriad of regulations involving look-back periods, income caps, transfer penalties and waiting periods to plan around.

Our law firm has the experience and the expertise to help avoid the financial ruin associated with the high cost of long-term care. Contact us today to start the process of understanding the issues surrounding Medicaid eligibility and to implement the planning and application process.

Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides aid and attendance (A&A) benefits to veterans and surviving spouses who need help with everyday living activities. A&A; provides benefits to veterans who require the regular aid and attendance of another person to perform basic activities of everyday living (for example, dressing and eating).

Commonly called the “Aid and Attendance” benefit, this little-known veterans’ benefit is officially called an “Improved Disability Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Entitlement.” Widowed surviving spouses who have not re-married are eligible for this same benefit officially called “Improved Death Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Entitlement.”

This “improved” VA disability pension benefit can help elderly war-time veterans (and their widowed surviving spouse) receive in-home care or offset the costs of independent home care agencies, an assisted living facility or nursing home care. In addition other qualified uses include medical expenses, prescription drugs, incontinence supplies and more. When properly documented, this financial assistance may also be used to pay a family member to provide the care.

The Housebound benefit is a benefit due when the claimant is ordinarily confined to their home or its immediate environs due to age, physical or mental disability. Housebound benefits generally represent a level of acuity below the threshold for Aid and Attendance.

A veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

As an Accredited Attorney for Veterans Benefits, Sam is able to assist with veterans benefits planning including Aid and Attendance.