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North Fort Myers Elder Law Lawyer Explores Medicaid Penalties

Elder Couple with Lawyer

When a North Fort Myers resident is getting ready to transition into assisted living, they will inevitably start the Medicaid application process. Before you get involved in that Medicaid application process, you should hire an experienced elder law attorney to help with the many potential Medicaid penalties you could be facing.

The Look-Back Period

The look-back period is a period of time where Medicaid will examine how you handled your assets to determine the level of your eligibility. For North Fort Myers residents, the look-back period is five years. This means that Medicaid will look back five years from your application date to see if you improperly handled any assets. Improperly handling assets means transferring large sums of money to relatives, signing over your home to your children, or any other method for lowering your assets to try and qualify for Medicaid.

Gifting Money

The Medicaid penalties are usually mathematical equations that Medicaid will use to determine just how severe the penalties will be. For example, if the average monthly cost for assisted living services in your state is $10,000.00 and it is found that you gifted $100,000.00 over the look-back period, then you would not be eligible for Medicaid benefits for 10 months.

Gifting money during the look-back period can come in many forms. If you transfer ownership of a $100,000.00 to your child during the look-back period, then Medicaid would use the $10,000.00 per month average cost to penalize you 10 months of eligibility. You would also get penalized if you sold your home to your child for $100,000.00, but the home was actually worth $200,000.00. Once again, the penalty would be based on the $100,000.00 deduction from the retail value and a 10-month penalty would be assessed.


There are some exemptions to the look-back rule that you can use to protect your family and your assets. If you are entering assisted living but your spouse is not, then your spouse is called a community spouse and they can spend your assets on things such as home improvements or family bills up to a certain limit. As long as the money is completely spent, the spouse entering assisted living would qualify for Medicaid.

The Mattar Firm can help you understand and avoid Medicaid penalties. Call our elder law and Medicaid planning attorneys today and let us put together a plan that benefits you and your family.


We are dedicated to making a difference in your life and that of your family.