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Need Help Navigating Medicaid? Here Are Some Tips

medicaidMedicaid can be a wonderful thing that helps us get through tough times, but you have to jump through so many hoops to get it that more people end up confused and frustrated than grateful. No matter what stage you’re in of the application process (even if you’re just considering it as a future possibility) you should consult an elder law attorney to help you navigate the process.

Get Help

Hire an elder law attorney ahead of time to help arrange your assets to make sure they don’t exceed the limit and place you out of eligibility for Medicaid. An attorney can help you place some of your assets in a Medicaid Planning type estate plan, which will better enable you to navigate the process of qualifying and applying for Medicaid.

Plan Ahead

Because there are things that are best taken care of ahead of time, you should consult an elder law attorney right away. Don’t wait until after something terrible has already happened, because by that time it could be too late. You want to get your assets in order before catastrophe strikes and/or you start to lose some of your mental faculties. Consult a qualified attorney when you’re at your best so they can help you stay that way.

The same goes for Power of Attorney, both for healthcare decisions and financial decisions. You want to have your Power of Attorney in place sooner, rather than later, because if something does happen and you’re unable to apply for Medicaid yourself, you’ll need your Power of Attorney to apply for you, but they can only do that if the process of authorizing them as your Power of Attorney has been completed.

Do Your Research

The best practices for applying for Medicaid will vary depending on whether you’re married or single, and if married, your spouse’s situation. For example, in some cases, it might make more sense to claim more income for the Medicaid recipient if it means letting the spouse keep more resources. It’s all about finding the sweet spot that lets you get the most out of your assets and Medicaid.

Furthermore, there are plenty of other mistakes that can derail your application for Medicaid, including:

  • Failing to properly report all your assets (even if the mistake is unintentional);
  • Leaving the nursing home or long-term care community to go home or to the hospital;
  • Moving from a nursing home or assisted living community in one state to a community in a different state; or
  • Failing to properly fill out the recertification application

That’s right – as if applying for Medicaid once wasn’t enough of a hassle, the government requires you to reapply every year to make sure you still qualify. They look for new assets and income, but they also update the application process because it’s not unusual for them to make changes to Medicaid. So just because you managed to successfully apply for Medicaid last year does not mean you can just copy and paste the previous year’s information into this year’s Medicaid application.

Hiring an experienced elder law attorney is really the best way to go to make sure you get the most out of your Medicaid. You might think someone working for the federal government or for your assisted living community would be able to advise you, but the truth is most of them don’t know as much about the process as a qualified elder law attorney. Even those working for the government don’t know all the ins and outs of their own regulations, so be sure to hire an attorney who knows what they’re doing.

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