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"How to get Medi-Cal coverage for your nursing home care... without selling your home or leaving your family without a dime... Surprising ways to pay for your assisted living and long term care costs."

Elder Law Today Newsletter | Vol. 29 | July, 2008


Medi-Cal Rules Are Complicated And: Please Don't Drive!

Medi-Cal Rules Are Complicated: The Medi-Cal rules are complicated, but can be of great benefit to the family with a loved one who is in need of nursing home care. It seems that many of our clients already know some basics of Medi-Cal, like the fact that a single person can qualify once their assets have been spent down to $2,000.

However, many people do not realize that the rules also provide that a married couple can qualify the ill spouse for Medi-Cal benefits once the couple has spent down to a maximum of $104,400, plus the $2,000 that the ill spouse may keep. Also, it is not well known that retirement accounts, such as IRAs, do not count for qualification for benefits, and are not subject to a lien after the death of the Medi-Cal recipient.

Also, it is not well known that the residence is exempt for qualification, for so long as the applicant intends to return home. After the Medi-Cal recipient dies, the home will be subject to a lien if it is in the estate of the decedent at the time of death. There are rules, however, allowing for transfer of the home to the well spouse, or to others, which will not interfere with qualification for Medi-Cal, and which will not subject the home to a lien after the death of the recipient

We have, sadly, seen too many occasions where nursing home residents needlessly sell their homes and spend down their assets in order to pay their nursing home bills, when in fact, they could have qualified for benefits without selling anything or spending a dime!

Before selling, transferring or spending down your assets, please consult with an elder law attorney who can help you to protect your assets and still qualify you for benefits.

Please Don’t Drive!: The stories in the ELT newsletters are printed with permission of our clients, and sometimes poetic license is used in the stories. One of the most difficult aspects of growing older is to realize, when the time comes, that you should not be driving. Clients have informed me of various methods they have used to encourage their older loved ones not to drive, such as parking behind their cars so that they cannot back out. With parents however, sometimes the “parent child” syndrome sets in, and we can’t help but follow our parents’ instructions. I am a bad example of that. I was the last person to be a passenger in the car my strong willed 85 year old father was driving. And, I knew he should not be driving. We went to a restaurant one evening after dark, and my attempts to finess my Dad out of driving were rebuffed. He turned right onto Hwy. 12 in Santa Rosa, which is a very busy two lane highway. I noticed that my Dad was driving half way into the bicycle lane, when I said, “Dad, you are driving in the bicycle lane!” He said, “Is there anyone in it?” I answered “No,” and he said, “So what are you worried about?!” I drove the car home after our dinner, and we soon thereafter had my Dad’s car sold.

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