The thought of placing a loved one in long term care facility and the financial burden associated with it can be challenging for any family. Qualifying for financial assistance from Medi-Cal is complex and fragmented. To better understand what to expect, here are five things to keep in mind.
Do I have too many assets to qualify?
Yes, there are asset limits to qualify for Medi-Cal, but you can “spend down” to meet these limits. This is a complicated process, so it is wise to contact an estate attorney with knowledge of Medi-Cal long term care requirements to advise you.
Will I have to “spend down” all my assets?
The Medi-Cal program is both more advantageous and more complex than that. You will be reorganizing your assets, rather than simply disposing of them. An estate attorney will aid you in this so you can receive financial assistance while preserving the flexibility of your assets.
There is a “look back” period of eligibility to be mindful of
During the application process, your assets will be reviewed over a period of 30 – 60 months to ensure that you spent down your assets correctly. If Medi-Cal deems you improperly gifted assets during this look back period, the government can delay your Medi-Cal assistance by the amount of time equivalent the amount of money gifted erroneously.
Will I have to sell my home to qualify?
No! California law does not consider the home an asset while the owner is living. However, your home can be subject to an estate claim after your death to reimburse Medi-Cal for the amount of Medi-Cal benefits paid out. An estate attorney can ensure that your financial structure provides for a “zero” estate at the time of death so the home does not have to be sold for repayment.
Approval is not the end
Medi-Cal applies to financial assistance for a one-year period; expect yearly reviews. You are also required to notify them of any changes in assets. The good news here is that your attorney can usually re-characterize your new assets just as they did for your application.
Rest assured, Medi-Cal is a viable option for individuals and families with greater assets and you can maintain a satisfying way of life while receiving benefits. Contact an estate attorney for assistance as the process is quite complex. If you have more questions, you can read our Medi-Cal FAQ.