Eye-opening conversation with Certified Elder Law Attorney Harold L. Grodberg, Esq. We covered the history of Elder Law, Medicaid eligibility, and Gifting – what constitutes a gift and how to make sure you don’t ruin your medicaid options by gifting too much.
We also touched on VA Benefits, Aid and Attendance, and Long Term Care and payment alternatives.
[Lots more info below…]
Harold frequently gives lectures and participates in charitable events as well. Harold also writes a Medicaid Pitfalls Blog – http://medicaidpitfalls.blogspot.com/
Harold L. Grodberg, Esquire
Harold L. Grodberg is the principal attorney of The Grodberg Law Firm, LLC. Attorney Grodberg has been practicing Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Estate Administration for over 20 years. Harold L. Grodberg is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the ABA accredited National Elder Law Foundation and an Accredited Attorney by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Attorney Grodberg regularly lectures on such topics as Preserving Family Wealth, Estate Planning, and Elder Law Planning. He is the author of numerous articles appearing in the New Jersey Law Journal, including Saving the Family Home, Hospital Patient Rights and Understanding Special Needs Trusts. Attorney Grodberg also co-authored the book In New Jersey A Will is Not Enough.
Attorney Grodberg is a named New Jersey Elder Law Super Lawyer for 2011 by Thompson Reuters after peer review.* He also makes home and hospital visits.
More Info from Harold
Costs of Long Term Care:
Nursing homes cost on average, $10,000.00 per month in New Jersey. In New York it is more like $12,000.00 5 years ago, the average was $8,000.00 and 10 years ago the average was $6,000.00
Live-in home care costs over $6000.00 per month.
Long Term Care Insurance is the best option to pay for long term care. Many people do not know that they may be working for large corporations that offer long term care as a benefit. If a person buys a long term care policy in their 50’s, the cost for a policy that will cover the cost of care when that person is 80 is around $3500 a year (if a person buys into the group policy offered at work, the premium is probably half $3500). Buying that same policy when a person is 80, will cost $18,000 per year (if they can get it at all because of health issues).
Many people think they can pay for home care and never need long term care in a nursing facility. However, they plan to pay cash to someone. The current cost is about $700 per week. However, people think that the person they hire is an independent contractor. But he or she is not an independent contractor. Only a registered nurse could be an independent contractor and a RN is not working for $700 a week. Otherwise that live in at the rate of $700 a week is an employee. If you employ someone you have to pay taxes, withholding, social security and if the person is injured at the house, it must be covered by worker’s compensation insurance. That person has to be paid the minimum wage. Finally, if you cannot prove that the $700 a week for payment, the State will treat it as a gift.
Medicaid will pay for long term in a nursing home and at home. Medicaid will not pay for 24 hour care at home, nor will it pay for home care 7 days a week (in New Jersey). Most people think they will never need Medicaid because it is a program for the poor. However, at the rate of $10,000.00 for a nursing home even an upper middle class husband and wife could find themselves needing Medicaid benefits.
Most people think that if they are married, they will have to spend all their money and sell their house before a spouse can be eligible for Medicaid benefits. That is not true. Medicaid is not a poverty program for married people. The spouse who is not ill can keep their house, half their total assets, but no greater than $117,240.00, their personal IRA, 401k (or any other type of tax qualified investment) and their fixed monthly income (pension and social security).
There is a lot of misunderstanding about gifts and Medicaid. The biggest misunderstanding is what a gift actually is. We all think of gifts as “happy birthday, here is $600.” But Medicaid treats gifts as far broader, including:
- Any check written to cash in excess of $500.
- Charitable gifts over $500.
- Paying someone else’s bills. Such as car insurance, down payment on a house, health insurance. I even had a client penalized for paying for her granddaughter’s drug rehabilitation program.
- People think they can give $14,000.00 per year to any person or number of persons and it is not a “gift.” That is true for gift tax purposes but no Medicaid purposes. The State imposes a 1 day penalty for each $313.15 a person “gives” away.
- Paying for care under the table.
- Having a joint account with a child and not being able to prove whose money is put into the account and whose expenses are paid out of the account.
New Jersey employs the harshest version of the gift rules of any state.
People are familiar with the 5 year look back for Medicaid, i.e. the State reviews a person’s assets for the 5 years prior to applying for Medicaid benefits. They think that if they are within the 5 years and need long term care, or their spouse, that they cannot protect some of their assets. That is absolutely not true. Right now, I can, legally and above boards, protect the assets of anyone in a crisis (in a nursing home or about to go to one). The five years is significant, but it is not a barrier to protecting assets.