If you have a loved one in Maryland whose physical abilities or mental faculties have started to decline, you may begin to think about the possibility of long-term medical care. Perhaps you’re wondering if that possibility is something you will eventually need. How do you pay for these services without running through an entire estate?
Qualifying for long-term Medicaid services
To qualify for Medicaid long-term care services, an applicant must meet a list of requirements. The most basic requirements under elder law are that the individual must be at least age 65, be blind or have a permanent disability as defined by the Social Security Administration. The applicant must also undergo a needs assessment to determine what services are required.
While many older individuals can qualify for these services based on need alone, what stands in the way of getting Medicaid services is monthly income. The “hard income” limit for seniors applying for Medicaid services is $2,382. Some seniors may qualify with a higher monthly income if they “spend down” to that limit due to high medical bills. In essence, they pay for some of their own care to qualify for Medicaid. However, many others still don’t qualify because of the assets they currently hold.
Estate planning to protect your assets
Medicaid generally requires a five-year waiting period with little or no income to qualify. You may want to consider protecting your assets years before Medicaid is needed.
In some instances, you may even be able to stay in your home while receiving medical services provided by Medicaid. Starting the estate planning process early gives you the opportunity to weigh your options and put assets in various financial instruments that can provide you with an income late in life.