Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Often, clients come to see an elder law attorney because an elder needs help taking care of him or herself. The family wants to know what their options are and typically concerned about the legal and financial implications of the elder’s long term care needs.

I believe one of the important elements to being an effective elder law attorney, one must be able to understand the system of housing options available to elders who have limitations caring for themselves. This includes the costs of such situations, as well as the availability of assistance with those costs through government programs. Below are some of the typical numbers that clients ask when seeking to better understand their options.

  • As usual, the “countable” asset, or resource, limit for an individual remains $2,000.
  • The monthly “personal needs” allowance for the nursing home resident remains $60 per month.
  • The maximum for the Community Spouse Resource Allowance remains the same as last year: $109,560. This is the greatest amount of a married couple’s “countable assets” that can be set aside for the community spouse while the couple spend down their assets so as to qualify the nursing home spouse for Medicaid benefits.
  • The “penalty” or divestment divisor will also remain $6,362. That means that if a gift of money is made by the Medicaid applicant within the “look-back period” the amount of the gift will be divided by $6,362 to determine how long the Medicaid applicant will be penalized (i.e. prevented from receiving Medicaid benefits and forced to pay for the nursing home out of pocket).