Elder Law/Long-Term Care Planning-
The term “Elder Law” actually covers a wide range of legal matters including issues with healthcare, long-term care planning, retirement options, Social Security, Medicaid, guardianship, and, if applicable, Veteran benefits or pension.
Not every Elder Lawyer practice in each of these matters, but we are a close network and can assist you in finding someone to help, even if we don’t practice in that particular area. As of this time, Worley Elder Law focuses our practice on the long-term care planning aspect, including Florida Medicaid and Veterans benefits/Aid & Attendance.
As of 2016, the median annual cost in Florida for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $100,152.00 (Florida Agency for Health Care Administration). That’s per person, per year and that number is likely to keep growing.
Florida Medicaid planning is the legal practice of restructuring the income and assets of a senior to help them qualify for Florida Medicaid benefits. It might be obvious, but this practice is vitally important because the average senior and their families are not financially prepared to pay for long-term care out of pocket, and it’s just as common that no provisions have been made in the event a need for long-term care arises.
Why should you seek guidance from a lawyer for this? Well, because a legitimate Elder Law attorney is going to be able to discuss the difference between countable and non-countable assets, earned versus unearned income, and will be able to help you understand the requirements of the 3 basic tests- Medical, Income, and Asset. Trust us, these classifications are not always logical and sometimes seem to contradict another classification altogether. This is why before we design any plan of action for your family, Worley Elder Law will complete a careful analysis of the current assets, income, medical expenses, Estate documents already in place, and of course, the desires of the senior. We’re here to help you navigate the options available to protect your family.
Now, you may be thinking it’ll be years before you need to start worrying about Medicaid, and hopefully you’re right. But there’s one more roadblock to be aware of- the 60 month look back period. All those classifications and tests noted above? Yeah, Medicaid considers everything that has happened for the 60 months prior to applying for Medicaid. Just curious, can you recall what that random $1,783 payment 3 years and 4 months ago was for? And can you prove the details? This is why it’s worth discussing before Medicaid is needed.
Give our office a call today to see how we can help you prepare your family for the best possible future.
VA Aid & Attendance
Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid by Veterans Affairs to veterans, veteran spouses or surviving spouses. This benefit helps those who need financial help to cover in-home care, assisted living facility costs, or nursing home costs. Unlike standard Veterans Benefits which require a service connection, Aid and Attendance is a non-service connected benefit and the disability is not required to be service related.
This benefit is available to wartime veterans and spouses of wartime veterans who have very little or no income, who are at least 65 years old, or, if under 65, are completely and permanently disabled. Further requirements include a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable, having served at least 90 days of continuous active duty with at least one day during an active wartime period. It is not a requirement that a veteran have served in combat though.
Part of the medical requirement is that the Veteran and/or Veteran’s spouse require the aid of another person in order to perform basic functions of everyday living like bathing, dressing, feeding, protecting themselves from normal hazards in the home, or that they be bedridden, or they require nursing home level care. These tests may seem like an obvious yes or no, but VA can seem challenging in their determinations.
While the application can take months before an approval is issued by VA, it is imperative that all requirements are met before the application is submitted. Similar to Medicaid, there are Income, Asset, and Medical tests that need to be analyzed prior to applying. Unlike Medicaid, VA currently does not impose a 60 month look back period, which can be helpful.
This description barely touches on all the steps and requirements of the Aid & Attendance process. It cannot be stressed enough though that if you or someone in your family was a servicemember and are needing assistance for the conditions noted above, that you contact a VA Accredited attorney to determine what options you or your family may have. Jami Worley is a VA Accredited attorney and has experience working in the area of Veterans Benefits at multiple levels including Regional, Board of Veterans Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Message or give us a call today!