The realization that someone you love may be showing the early signs of dementia can be devastating. Not to mention the prospect of providing long-term care. Although planning ahead may be the best option, it is not always a real option, since not everyone knows of the potential need for long-term care early on. Nevertheless, covering the cost of long-term care can be overwhelming. While Medi-Cal may be an option it, like other need-based government assistance programs, has specific eligibility requirements that must be met. When you are considering planning for Medi-Cal with early signs of dementia in a loved-one, you should know, it is never too late.
It is never too late to plan
No, it is never too late to plan for Medi-Cal. Certainly, the best idea is to plan ahead in order to ensure you or your loved ones will meet the qualifications. But there may still be options, even if you suddenly find that a loved one needs to apply for Medi-Cal benefits. Unfortunately, you cannot simply transfer your loved-one’s property or assets to someone else, in anticipation of applying for Medi-Cal. Since the passing of a federal law in 2005, there is a period of ineligibility for Medi-Cal applicants who give away their assets within the past five years. This is known as the five-year “look back” period, which begins when the Medi-Cal application is first made.
What signs should I be looking for?
If your loved one begins to show signs of mental impairment, such as getting lost or disoriented, leaving food on the stove, frequently forgetting their medication, it may be time to consider the possibility of long-term care. Mental impairment can come from age, infirmity, or long-term effects of medication. However, these symptoms can also be early signs of dementia, which is typically signified by memory loss that disrupts daily life.
Why Medi-Cal planning is important
Because Medi-Cal is a need-based government benefits program, an applicant cannot have financial resources that exceed $2,000. When Medi-Cal calculates an individual’s resources, it excludes their residence. However, it is still very easy to exhaust all savings, before Medi-Cal will start covering the costs of long-term care. That is why Medi-Cal planning is so important, as it can potentially avoid the need to forfeit all savings.
Medi-Cal trusts should also be considered
If you place assets into a trust for your loved one, you can protect those assets while still allowing them to qualify for Medi-Cal. With a Medi-Cal Trust your loved one will be the beneficiary, and you can also name others as residual beneficiaries. In other words, your loved one can receive income from the trust, up to the maximum amount allowed by Medi-Cal, while still remaining eligible for benefits.
If you have questions regarding dementia, or any other Medi-Cal planning issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.