While it may not be something most people want to think about, anyone who lives long enough is likely to experience a disability and require around-the-clock care. Thankfully, Medicaid is there to help cover costs, but when you apply can drastically change how much coverage you receive.
The Best Time to Plan for Needing Medicaid
A serious health change requiring a nursing home often arrives unexpectedly. Anyone can prepare in advance for health challenges with an elder law attorney, but the trick is to apply at the right time.
Besides strict eligibility guidelines, Medicaid’s five-year lookback period is where people run into the most trouble at the worst possible time. The lookback policy can cause severe hardships on families who didn’t know they needed to plan for Medicaid coverage years in advance.
The point of the lookback period is to scrutinize your finances in the years before you applied. If you gifted money or assets like a home to family members during that time, your coverage will be impacted. Due to changes at the state level, there is now also a lookback policy affecting Community Medicaid programs that cover in-home care.
While there are some cases where you need to apply early anyway to get the clock running, it's generally better to wait until after the time limit on financial transfers will no longer interfere with your benefits.
On the other side, you also want to avoid applying too late. In New York, Medicaid only allows up to three months of retroactive coverage. That means you will likely need to apply as soon as possible if you are already in a situation where you need help with medical costs.
The key is hitting the correct time between too late and too early to maximize your benefits without experiencing problems due to the lookback period. If you aren’t sure whether you qualify or if past financial moves will hurt you, talk to an attorney about applying.
Prepare for the Future by Talking With an Experienced Attorney
Senior citizens with health conditions likely to worsen over time should keep the need for Medicaid in mind, but even younger New Yorkers need to be ready for the future. Give yourself and your family the peace of mind knowing you are prepared if you need Medicaid one day. Call to set up a consultation with attorney Theodore Alatsas and find out more.