Medicaid planning can help protect New York seniors' assets

The average annual cost of a nursing home is $180,000. No matter how much they have saved, few New York families have the means to pay this price, especially if the stay is expected to last several years or more. At this point, many people believe they can turn to Medicare to cover the cost, but sadly this not true in cases where long-term or permanent residency is required. This is when Medicaid planning can be a (literal) lifesaver.

The health insurance most seniors have, Medicare, covers only some nursing home bills, and only for a maximum of 100 days. Most seniors, in fact, find out after only 21 days in a nursing home that their Medicare will no longer pay the average $15,000 monthly bill. When the seniors have no money left to pay the cost, this is when Medicaid steps in.

Medicaid is the government program instituted to pay nursing home bills for the elderly. However, to be eligible, there are asset qualifications; most states force unmarried seniors to spend all but $1,600 of their savings. While married couples are allowed to keep their house and car, they are only permitted keep a maximum of $119,200 in assets. Anything above this amount must be spent or sold, also referred to as "spending down." This essentially means that seniors who require nursing home care are expected to spend their entire life savings before they are eligible for Medicaid assistance.

The good news is that, through careful planning, seniors may be able to qualify for Medicaid benefits while still protecting the assets and savings for which they've spent their whole lives working. And whether a senior is planning for the future or has already taken up residence in a New York nursing home for one week, one month, one year or more, it's never too late to help protect remaining assets. An experienced Long Island New York Medicaid planning attorney can offer legal advice concerning the best steps to take and how to begin the process.

Source:, "SENIOR SIGNALS: What to do if a loved one goes into a nursing home", Daniel O. Tully, Jan. 8, 2017

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