During spend-down, can a parent's money be used for an adult child's medical bills?

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Right now this is a hypothetical question, but I'm interested in knowing the answer in case I have to face it in the future.

My adult brother is living with my 90 year old mother. He is unemployed, with no medical insurance. If he was to become seriously ill (i.e. lung cancer due to his smoking habit), could my mother's money be used to pay for his medical care, or would this cause her to be penalized when she applies for Medicaid? She will almost surely need to apply within the next 5 years. I don't know if something like that would be considered "gifting" or not.

Thank you.

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Expert Answer
3930 helpful answers
This is tricky. Your brother may qualify for his own disabiltiy and medical care. Otherwise, it could be considered gifting. She would need to see an attorney (actually the soon the better) to discuss this very thing and how to handle it and there are so many variables.

Carol
Carol,

Thank you for your answer. I'm mom's POA and have already consulted with an eldercare lawyer about other "gifting" issues caused by my brother in the past (at this point almost 5 years ago, thank goodness). I didn't discuss my brother's potential future medical costs with the lawyer at that time. My brother isn't sick yet, but his lifelong smoking habit could certainly cause a problem anytime now. I figured her money going to his medical bills could cause a penalty, but wasn't entirely sure it would be considered gifting. I guess of course it is, as it is technically a transfer of her funds to someone else, and those funds aren't being used expressly for her care. Geez, this is all a slippery slope, isn't it? To not really have control over your own money in your last five years before going in a NH. I guess that's the breaks if you want to apply for Medicaid someday.

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