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Understand Medicaid’s Look-Back Period

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As we age, we may have a need for long-term care. Whether it is care for a specific cognitive illness, or any number of physical ailments that may leave us unable to care for ourselves, going into nursing home care requires us to examine a host of issues, including the costs and how to protect our assets. The costs of nursing home care can vary but can easily be around $10,000 per month and most people cannot sustain paying privately for very long. Usually, people will apply for Medicaid. However, Medicaid has an income eligibility threshold that must be met to qualify, including a five-year look-back period. It’s important to understand how the look-back period works before you or a loved one is in this situation. 

Essentially, Medicaid’s look-back period was put in place to prevent people from giving away assets to meet the income eligibility requirements. Any asset transfers made during the look-back period are examined, with a penalty imposed if it’s determined that a person violated the rules. The penalty involves an amount of time in which the person is deemed ineligible for Medicaid. This is because the assets transferred or gifted could have been used to pay for the long-term care in lieu of Medicaid. Gifts or asset transfers made before the look-back period won’t be used when determining Medicaid eligibility. 

In general, the look-back period starts when a person’s Medicaid application is filed. For example, if someone applied for Medicaid on December 31, 2020, the look-back period would extend back to December 31, 2015. 

There are several types of transactions that could lead to a penalty. For instance, gifting money to a child during the look-back period, or transferring a house to a family member, or selling assets at less than full-market value can all trip the look-back penalty. 

It is possible to plan for the future while protecting your assets. Planning ahead and factoring the look-back period into your plans is the best way to deal with it. It is possible to save thousands of dollars in long-term care costs by retaining an elder law attorney. 

An elder law attorney has the knowledge and experience to best execute the process. Elder lawyers work on Medicaid cases regularly and have a depth of knowledge. They can help their clients achieve their goals throughout the process.

While an elder law attorney has a deep understanding of the Medicaid process, they also understand secondary concerns and issues that go along with Medicaid. They offer an array of expertise on related topics and guide clients down the best path possible.

Contact a Medicaid Lawyer

Consider calling The Mattar Firm with any questions you may have regarding Medicaid, Medicare, elder law, or estate planning. We are here to help. Call 239-222-2222.


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