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VA benefits, takes a long time for them to process, but in about 18 months you will have an answer (speaking from experience). Better apply immediately.
Go to your county Social Services immediately, too. They will coordinate benefits with VA.
For VA to pay, they must have no more than $80,000 in assets (unless I'm out of date, someone else can update please).
To qualify for Medicaid, it's even less assets than VA. They may have to sell the house, and move into subsidized housing.
The biggest hurdle I see, is they probably have been living far beyond their means, for a LONG time. It might be a radical adjustment for them.
I would suggest renting out part of their house to a student or boarder, but, that would mean income....and they wouldnt' qualify for Medicaid.
Tough situation. They ought to teach every high school student in the nation about these issues! Be prepared for older age, by saving NOW, and don't live beyond your means.
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Veronica91 - My parents lived through the Depression/WW2, and it changed them, even if they were little kids back then. They were a good 15 years older than my peer's parents. I was was reared to "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" before it was a hipster thing to Upcycle. All these blogs and websites about boiling your grocery store rotisserie chicken carcass to make broth crack me up. The cloth diaper people really crack me up. The new ones are cute and easy to use, but the cost per use is higher than disposables if you get the "chic" ones. Full disclosure - I used cloth diapers on my daughter becaues her butt was allergic to paper disposables. I bought used & sanitized ones on ebay from a diaper service. Never had a problem.

It's amazing how many modern conveniences we really could do without but I wouldn't want to (internet!) I would be OK to give up cable, but it's bundled with the internet!
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There is no such thing as a free ride, despite what you might hear on the radio.
Don't put your eggs in the Medicaid basket yet.
Medicaid requires that you be down to your last $2,00-$3,000 in assets. They do an inventory and research back 5 years to see if you have any hidden sources of funds to use up first, including saleable property. There are other rules that vary by state.

You need to see an elderlaw attorney ASAP. They are specialists who are versed in all the ins & outs of elder affairs and can tell you what to do.

You also can't have Medicare and an Affordable Care Act /Obamacare plan at the same time. That is the first question asked on the ACA application!

I can tell you without being an attorney that mom & dad are going to need to downsize, downsize, downsize. You might need to hold something much like an estate sale now, to generate some cash. Believe me, get rid of as many belongings as possible sooner than later.

Maybe move them into a small senior apartment and sell the house to generate some money to support them for a while. But as other posters have said, they have to trim out every single thing that is not 100% necessary to live. It's brutal, it's not fair, and this is the reality for more people than not. Don't plan on an inheritance.

Talk to that attorney first thing Monday morning.
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As CM said I was not knocking living frugally. I was brought up during WW11 when there was no choice down to saving the elastic from a pair of worn out underwear.
I still grow a garden,can food and make jam etc. Thrift stores, rummage and garage sales are an enjoyable outing for me. Why even my cat is recycled!! I also look forward to the arrival of my copy of the Mother Earth News every two months. I was looking at it from the perspective of a young family of four I am friendly with. the wife is an LPN and her husband is disabled - still trying to get qualified. They live on that $22k a year. Some months they just can't find the $100 for the electric bill or $600 to fill the propane tank. If I was running that family I could do things a lot differently but they were never taught the skills although they try hard. I personally have taught them a lot of things about home improvement etc.
Now I am old and tired and often take the easy way out but the spirit is still willing.
The younger generation would not be seen dead with darns in their socks but I still mend my good wool winter ones
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CM, not grumpy, just brought up in a different time and way. We had one of those single cup coffee salesman at the office, telling me how the system also had tea. I'm thinking, they already come single serving (teabag). The cost was $14 for what I get for $3 full retail. But I'm taken aback at how hard it must be to eat healthy in urban neighborhoods where there are only corner stores with convenience foods because there is no supermarket. I read an article a while back about neighborhoods in Detroit that are "underserved", I think was the word.
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GA, the shock was that this store was about four geographical miles from my parents' house, but sociologically on a different planet. It made me realise that eating well isn't only a matter of money: it's no use thinking you'll make a fabulous lentil curry if the merchandisers decide you're in the frozen horse meat and cheesy puffs demographic. Horrifying. Thank God for ethnic diversity or millions of people in that city would never see a fresh vegetable.

I agree with you absolutely about some of the things people pay good money for. Yesterday I goggled at ready-peeled garlic, in little plastic tubs, for about - I didn't actually check the price, but - £1.79 I think for five cloves, so £3.60 for a bulb, give or take, so about four or five times the sensible cost (assuming you forgot - again - to plant it in time, of course). Really? What, just so you don't have to take 30 seconds to peel it and another 30 seconds to wash your hands? Seriously??? And ready-spiced lamb chops. Because it's too hard to put your own spices and quite a lot less salt on your own lamb chops? Oh my. And don't start me on disposable floor wipes… And *electronic* air fresheners! - rub some lavender, for heaven's sake. Or open the bloody window...

[Getting a bit grumpy in my old age!]
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CM, that was my impression also. My point was that some of the options are far better and healthier than those made by people who do have choices, especially the healthy food issues.

I hope you don't go back to that area of London again!
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GA it's true that a growing number of people are choosing less wasteful lifestyles, as they might see it. I think, though, that Veronica is thinking of people who don't have a choice. Which tends to make the whole exercise a lot less fun and feel-good.

I once accidentally went grocery shopping in a pretty deprived area of London, maybe 30 years ago this was. Because the store belonged to the same supermarket chain I normally used, I assumed, naïvely, that it would stock more or less what I normally bought and just breezed in there. Well! - that was a shock. No fresh produce to speak of. No wholemeal bread. A LOT of frozen rubbish, snacks and sodas. And it wasn't like the residents could hop in their cars and go to another branch. Even the nearest markets were a couple of bus rides away. I learned a lesson or two that day.
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Veronica, you have an interesting perspective on bare bones living. A lot of people actually voluntarily choose and enjoy a lifestyle incorporating some of the things you cite.

I know people who do have good incomes who shop at thrift stores and often get brand new clothing donated by large retailers.

Many people do make their own cleaners, or use ingredients common in the home (baking soda, for example) which are less toxic than prepared cleaners.

And growing and preserving one's own food is far more healthy and rewarding than eating food that may contain chemicals and preservativs, from cans or packed in plastics that might have BPA. For families who grew up on farms or had gardens from WWII, growing one's own food is part of life; it's not done because they can't afford to buy processed stuff from stores. It's a choice for a safer and healthier lifestyle.

Bean based meals? Beans are high in B vitamins. What could be wrong with that?

The other aspects you mention such as struggling financially just for basics such as heat, water and shelter of course are nothing anyone would desire. And I'm not criticizing your standards.

But if you read any organic gardening literature, visit the Mother Earth News website, read about sustainable gardening, xeriscaping and similar topics, you'll find there are a LOT of people who voluntarily choose a more healthy, natural and safe lifestyle, incorporating aspects which apparently are consideed by some as subsistence living.
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Reverse mortgages are only for owner-occupied homes. Once you move out, the loan is immediately due in full. If you apply for Medicaid, they would expect to see a fair market rent coming in from the house. Even with a life estate, here in NY, the rent must flow to the life tenant as long as she lives.
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we live in the state of Virginia, and from I've read there only a few states that would you to benefit. Home has no mortgage, it's paid for. Right now a relative lives in the house, but not being rented. Could she qualify for Reverse Mortgage?
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Is renting mom's house an option if she won't agree to sell
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ya1124, I don't know who you got advice from, but it is NOT TRUE that owning a home prevents one from receiving Medicaid.

What is the status of her home now? Is it standing empty?
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I read some very interesting questions and recommendations. My situation is as following: I am POA and Fiduciary (VA) for my mom. She gets SS and a small amount from VA Death Pension as my father was in the Army and served in the Korean War. Dealing with the VA has been a real adventure. I filed an appeal for her to keep receiving the payments that she had shortly after my father passed away. She went a whole year with no monies from the VA. They made me file another appeal as if this was the first appeal that I had sent them. The little amount that she gets now has Aid and Attendance monies included in the amount she now gets. My original appeal got glassed over, and they told me that even though she went a year with no payments that she didn't qualify for any back pay. Since she owns a home, she doesn't qualify for Medicaid. Her funds are low, very low. She lives with us because she has dementia and can not be left alone. We have an Aide that comes in 2x weekly, as my health is not the best either. She owns a home, no mortgage payments. What can we do with the house as her funds won't last her this year? Any advice is GREATLY appreciated.
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Thanks guys you are really helping. Does anyone have experience with the VA Improved Pension?
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VA applications take about 4 months at the minimum, some folks have waited over a year. Go to the top of this page, Click on Money and Legal, scroll down to Veterans Assistance and look there.
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You need advice from a good eldercare lawyer. Have him/her tell you who to contact and educate your self. If the lawyer does the work it will be expensive.
They should hang onto the drug plan until they find an alternative. Contact the VA immediately your parents would need to use their services but they would basically be free. Even with just SS their income may be too high for Medicaid, food stamps etc. Even the poverty level is quite low. You can look all these things up yourself. I know for a family of four it is something like $22k a year. if you don't have extreme frugality skills it is nearly impossible. I mean down to thrift store shopping, make your own detergent, cooking everything from scratch, growing and preserving all the food you can. Lots of bean based meals.
It can be done but you do need very cheap housing and medical care. plus making use of free heat in places like the library, shopping centers and senior centers. it really is bare to the bone living and most people just don't have the skills
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We got a Medicare supplement plan for an extra $100 a month through Independent Health, So Rx copays are $5 for generics. Do NOT drop that coverage. You are now past the December date for plan changes. Next December you can upgrade to a better plan, NOT NOW. Medicaid is for LOW income people with less than $2000 in the bank. Medicaid puts a lien on the estate to recover costs. Many doctors and nursing homes will NOT take Medicaid. Medicaid rules vary from state to state, check your state Medicaid website for more details.
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Thanks so much for all of the helpful answers. Right now, we are trying to tackle the medical expenses. They have Medicare and a prescription plan through a company my father used to work for. If we dropped that plan there's no going back so I want to be sure about it. Should we go to Medicaid? I've heard that you can get your drugs and copays free if you have a combination of Medicare and Medicaid? Also my father could apply for VA benefits. Anyone familiar with these options? I guess we need a medical benefits expert's advice.
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Reverse mortgage wouldn't be an option since they have little equity in the house. Reverse mortgage is actually an equity loan. Since they don't have a lot vested in the house right now, it would be good to unload it. Mortgage payments for a typical house can cost as much as SS pays. If they still owe a lot, there doesn't look like there is any relief in sight. Before I put the house on the market, though, I would check to be sure the parents could move into more affordable housing. Sometimes rents can be as much as mortgage payments.

Wouldn't it be great to be rich and not worry about these things?
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The house sounds like a millstone around their necks. there is little equity and they are paying their mortgages taxes etc not to mention maintenance etc.
I don't like the idea of reverse mortgages or even know if that would be a possibility. My idea would be to get on the list for elder housing where the rent is income related and there may or may not be some kind of supervision. As far as supplemental health insurance is concerned look into Obamacare and see if there is plan that can help. We have a blue cross PPO which costs $116 each a month and as long as you stay in network it is $10 a visit for PCP and $25 for specialist. All of my meds are generic and I take about 6 so my out of pocket cost was about $300 last year. Make sure they are using generics where available and drugs that are on an ins co's formulary.
Can either of them do any kind of work, even a few hours a week would help.
It will be very hard if they were used to a certain standard of living, had two cars and belonged to the golf club etc but many people live on less than $2000 a month although it takes some creativity and discipline. Do either or both of them have some dementia problems? I ask this because to be living off investments prior to the recession and to have no money now sounds as though they did not handle their finances too well. It is a big worry but for every problem there is a solution.
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susanfair, it sounds like it is time for them to downsize to fit their tight budget. There are apartments in senior communities that are quite reasonable. This would get the burden of the mortgage, taxes, and home maintenance off their shoulders. It doesn't have to be assisted living if they can still live on their own.

If their medical bills are a lot, I get the feeling they are not taking full advantage of their Medicare benefits. Are they on a good Advantage program, such as Blue Advantage or with Humana? My mother has Blue Advantage and we have little out-of-pocket expense, though she has several medical problems. The Advantage programs I mentioned also cover prescriptions, and will pay most of the cost of generics.

Many of the people who drew their money out of the market in 2008 were hurt badly. The market recovered, but people who took money out did not benefit from the recovery. I feel for those people who lost so much.
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This unfortunately isn't the first time our elderly find themselves in this situation. I agree the sale of their may be necessary. Is living with you or other siblings an option? Get them signed up for Medicaid so their medical is covered, get them signed up for welfare and food stamps etc. Its hard for them I'm sure to accept that state aid but from what you described is necessary. Assisted living sounds like a great option but most are very expensive (10k+in my area) and most only accept private pay so that might not be an option. A nicer nursing home that takes Medicaid for payment might be your only option but even that has long wait lists.
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Can they sell their home and move into an assisted living facility? If they need money they're sitting in their only asset--their home.
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You can call the county welfare office and sign them up for Medicaid.
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OK, so what are they like…..are they in poor health, advanced elderly and probably will need skilled nursing care in the near future; or are they maybe 70 & 72 and can probably stay living on their own another decade or so.

About their medical, are they getting the best use of their Medicare? Like are they going to providers that take Medicare or are they getting care from outside that cost more? Do they have a MediGap type of policy and does it work for what they need…..many of these are really good but you have to go within the system to get it to be worthwhile. If they are seeing their old doc because they like him and he is not on their gap plan it is costing them.

Does their part D plan work for the medications they take? You can gather up all their Rx's and go to CVS and other pharmacies to see what they charge, it could be lots less. My mom loved the old pharmacy in the neighborhood, used it since my childhood but their prescriptions generally were more and charged extra for her wide mouth screw top bottles. I got her to switch to a grocery store pharmacy which saved a good amount of money.

What is the situation on the home, like what is the outstanding mortgage and what could the house sell for now? are they significantly under-water on the house, you need to figure out the % under if that is the case; what is the condition of the home is there significant deferred repairs,etc. Does the house "work" for them or would they be better living in IL or an apartment?

And the really hard part, have they been and are they possibly living beyond their means? can they live on a budget to be able to have just SS cover their basics? Or is their monthly cost just never going to be able to have SS work for them?
None of this is easy but you need to have a hard look at the numbers.
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They were living off of investments and savings plus Social Security. They lost a lot in the stock market in 2001 and 2008. Now they only have Social Security and it's not enough to meet their expenses. They have a lot of medical expenses and still paying off a home with very little equity.
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Could you tell us a little more? Most elders qualify for Medicare and Social Security. Are they not getting enough to live?
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