From the CDC: Older adults, 65 years and older should stay at home1. — But how are they to get the care and companionship they need? St. Louis, Missouri – April 3, 2020 – Social distancing and sheltering in place are vital in order to... Read More
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At some point, many older people will need to receive care and may have to move out of their properties. Yet the cost of elderly care can be really high and wipe out life savings rapidly. The cost of paying for care for the elderly is not easy reading.
For instance, the cost of a semi-private room in an average nursing home is $225 daily, or $6,844 monthly, whilst a private room costs $253 a day or $7,698 a month. These figures come from the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
According to the HHS, even a single bedroom apartment in an assisting living block costs $119 daily or $3,628 monthly. For elderly people who use home help services the charge for care or help is around $20.50 per hour. Those are national averages and the cost of elderly care in high-cost areas like New York City would be far higher.
Long-term privately brought care insurance is one method to cover some of the care costs, yet it is expensive and is not suitable for everyone. Such policies will also cost less if taken out before the age of 60.
Apply for Medicaid
Another solution for eldercare services is to qualify for Medicaid, a program jointly run by state and federal governments. The specific areas covered differ from state to state yet it generally covers nursing homes plus home and community-based services for the elderly who need assistance without skilled nursing care. In the majority of states, Medicaid also covers those services, which will help people remain in their homes according to the HHS.
To qualify for Medicaid, elderly people have to hold countable assets below a certain amount. A typical amount would be $2000 per person, and $3000 per couple, but differs widely from state to state. For instance, in 2018 the amounts for New York were $15500 per person and $22000 for a couple. Assets, that are counted include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, the cash value of life insurance policies and even retirement policies.
If a person owns a home, it could be excluded if the equity is below a certain amount. Once a home is no longer the owner’s main residence it will count as a resource and potentially be subject to a reimbursement claim from Medicaid.
Generally, old people reached the criteria by giving money to family and friends, or spending money on paying for their care costs. Yet there are legal means to assist elderly people meet the criteria without making themselves poor. Here are the options to explore before attempting it.
Asset Protection Trust
A fully established and irrevocable trust is one way of sheltering assets to avoid risking Medicaid eligibility. Such a trust takes away control of the funds from the elderly person. A revocable trust is not an option as the person will not qualify for Medicaid.
An alternative would be to transfer the money to a responsible relative. Yet that money could be at risk if that person gets divorced or died suddenly. That is because as soon as the money is transferred it legally belongs to that other person.
Trust funds currently have a five-year lockout period. This means if the money was put into a trust more than five years ago it is not counted in terms of qualifying criteria. However, if the elderly person went into care less than five years after the fund was set up the amount within it can be included in the calculations for Medicaid. There would be a penalty period, in which time full care costs are paid until the older person has below the cut off point.
Whilst the older person is paying for their own care their assets will dwindle faster, and they can ask to have their claim for Medicaid reviewed.
Private Annuities / Promissory Notes
These are another option is somebody does not want to lose all their savings or assets during the five year period. They could put half of their money into a private annuity that could not be taxed by the federal government. The other half could be placed into a trust. Neither could be taxed and the funds will not affect the claim for Medicaid.
Related Post: Eldercare Services Tips from the Experts