New VA Pension Numbers Released for 2015
The Veterans Administration has published its 2015 pension rates, reflecting a 1.7% cost of living increase from 2014. Click here to find the new pension rate tables. #VAAidAttendance
Superior Court Judge Orders Timely Decisions on Medi-Cal
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled on January 20 that if California's Department of Health Care Services cannot process a Medi-Cal application within its 45-day deadline, then it must grant applicants who are likely eligible with provisional health benefits. This lawsuit, which was filed in September 2014, accused the Department of leaving hundreds of thousands of Californians without vital health care benefits, while their applications lingered well beyo
Special Needs Trusts
Supplemental needs trusts (also known as "special needs" trusts) allow a disabled beneficiary to receive gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and not lose his eligibility for certain government programs. Such trusts are drafted so that the funds will not be considered to belong to the beneficiary in determining his eligibility for public benefits. As their name implies, supplemental needs trusts are designed not to provide basic support, but instead to pay for comforts
Does Medicare cover the cost of long-term care?
"No. This is one of the most common misconceptions of seniors. Medicare covers short-term rehabilitation but does not cover custodial care at home or in a nursing home. Medicare will cover acute illnesses such as heart surgery or strokes, but not chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. If you meet strict requirements, you may receive up to 100 days of Medicare coverage for skilled nursing care in a nursing home; however, there are significant co
Why might I need an elder law attorney?
According to the American Bar Association: "If you or a loved one is concerned about cost of long-term care and how you will pay for it, then you should speak to an elder law attorney. The elder law attorney will be able to explain to you the various methods of paying for long-term care, including the government benefit programs that are available and how to qualify for them. If you are concerned about planning for a time when you might not be able to make decisions on your o
Estate Recovery and Liens
Under Medi-Cal law, following the death of the Medi-Cal recipient the state must attempt to recover from his or her estate whatever benefits it paid for the recipient’s care. However, no recovery can take place until the death of the recipient’s spouse, or as long as there is a child of the deceased who is under age 21 or who is blind or disabled. While states must attempt to recover funds from the Medi-Cal recipient’s probate estate, meaning property that is held in the bene
Protections for the Healthy Spouse
The Medi-Cal law provides special protections for the spouse of a nursing home resident to make sure she has the minimum support needed to continue to live in the community. The so-called “spousal protections” work this way: If the Medi-Cal applicant is married, the countable assets of both the community spouse and the institutionalized spouse are totaled as of the date of “institutionalization,” the day on which the ill spouse enters either a hospital or a long-term care fa
Treatment of Income
The basic Medi-Cal rule for nursing home residents is that they must pay all of their income, minus certain deductions, to the nursing home. The deductions include a $35-a-month personal needs allowance (this amount may be somewhat higher in particular states), a deduction for any uncovered medical costs (including medical insurance premiums), and, in the case of a married applicant, an allowance for the spouse who continues to live at home if he or she needs income support.
Exceptions to the Transfer Penalty
Transferring assets to certain recipients will not trigger a period of Medi-Cal ineligibility. These exempt recipients include the following: A spouse (or a transfer to anyone else as long as it is for the spouse’s benefit) A blind or disabled child A trust for the benefit of a blind or disabled child A trust for the sole benefit of a disabled individual under age 65 (even if the trust is for the benefit of the Medi-Cal applicant, under certain circumstances). In addition, sp
The Transfer Penalty
The second major rule of Medi-Cal eligibility is the penalty for transferring assets. Congress does not want you to move into a nursing home on Monday, give all your money to your children (or whomever) on Tuesday, and qualify for Medi-Cal on Wednesday. So it has imposed a penalty on people who transfer assets without receiving fair value in return. These restrictions, already severe, have been made even harsher by enactment of the DRA. This penalty is a period of time during