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Recently, I looked into what to do to get my husband to qualify for Medicaid in a long term memory care facility. I spoke to an eldercare lawyer who assured me I would be able to keep my pension, my social security, my house, my cars (all at least 10 years old) and my savings, which are under $28,000. That is all we have. I decided not to do it yet. However, people keep telling me that the lawyer is wrong, I will lose my house, or 1/2 the value of it, I will have to sell cars. These people are telling me from the position of having to do it for their parents. They are telling me horror stories of what happened to them, and that the lawyer is wrong. This has been very upsetting, to get counsel and then be told that the counsel is wrong, and I must "protect myself." I think these people may have had many more assets than we do. Does anyone of modest means like myself have any experience with putting a spouse in long term care, and losing their house by doing so?

My dad had modest means when my mother required a nursing home. After precious little time of a long term care policy paying, then briefly private pay, Medicaid kicked in. My mother’s SS went directly to her care. My father was left with the house, his entire SS, and his entire pension. He had to sell one car and keep one car. His lifestyle changed little to none. The business manager at the nursing home walked us through the entire Medicaid process at no cost. I’d recommend looking into facilities and speaking with the business manager
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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Chlokara Oct 6, 2021
Thank you. This is what I was told by my attorney and was relieved to discover. Then well meaning friends and acquaintances have told me different. Thanks for your confirmation of the facts I learned,
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The rules are different for a COUPLE applying for Medicaid and a single person applying.

You, as the Community Spouse, are protected from impoverishment. The house will be subject to a lien from Medicaid when YOU die or sell the house if it is in both of your names.

I have a suggestion; do you have a trusted friend you can take with you to the lawyer for the next appointment? Two sets of ears is MUCH better than one.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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You need to talk to Medicaid. Each situation is different. I am just giving u the basics here. Each State is different.

If you have assets over your monthly income and SS, you can have them split. Insurance policies with cash in value need too be cashed in. This can be used to prepay a funeral, which is what I did. Is the 28k in both your names? Then it will need to be split. In your name only, I am not sure about. You will become the Community Spouse. As such, you can remain in the home and have one car. What you get from your combined monthly SS and pensions will depend on what you need to live on. You will probably get yours and part or all of his. The CS can not be made impoverished. When DH passes, a lean for the cost of his care will be placed on the house. Upon your death, the house will need to be sold to satisfy the lean. Even if you sell before that time, the lean will need to be satisfied. If someone in the family wants the home, they will need to pay the lean. Like I said, just the basics here. In your State you maybe able to keep both cars.

I have never understood why the first thing people say when Medicaid is involved is see an elder lawyer. I made an appt with a Medicaid caseworker. I sat down and he actually filled out the application asking me questions. I was given a list of things I needed to provide. I did have a lawyer but only for the house which is an exempt asset. Thats because the house was for sale in a bad market and I had a nephew living there. But, I did all the work getting things needed and dealing with the caseworker. Mom only had 20k to her name over and above her SS and small pension. I took the 20k and paid the NH privately for two months. The 3rd month, Medicaid Started.

Remember I said each State is different.
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Chris52 Oct 7, 2021
People say to see an attorney because Medicaid staff sometimes give information or partial information or do not convey it clearly. (They also lose documents sent in, or mis-file them, or don’t know where to look for them.) This all happened with our family. The process was extremely frustrating and far more difficult than it needed to be.
Also, know that administrative or business staff at care facilities are not always knowledgeable, although they may offer valuable information based on their experience.
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Chlokara,

I would start the process. You have enough information at this point to ask questions if something doesn't seem inline with what the attorney told you.

I am so sorry that you are being bombarded with different case scenarios at a most difficult time for you.

One thing I highly recommend, send copies to Medicaid, number the documents when you get it all together, ie 1 of 100, 2 of 100. Keep a complete copy for yourself and in the event something goes missing you can ask the social worker to tell you what pages are missing. This will help tremendously in the case of careless handling but, it also stops alot of carelessness because it is obvious that they are responsible, as they received a set number of numbered documents.

You can do it! Best of luck!
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Debstarr53 Oct 7, 2021
Really great advice, for all of us.
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Chiokara,

The elder law attorney advised you correctly. I, too, am an elder law attorney.

As the healthy spouse and to qualify your husband for Medicaid, based on your facts, you retain the family home, one car, furniture and personal property found in the house, a prepaid funeral arrangement, and all the savings.
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onholdinmidwest Oct 7, 2021
OK, not to be a bottom feeder Krause3215, but may I ask a related question?  Same scenario-my husband, only 57 will ultimately need to move from the privately paid for assisted living to nursing home care when his physical needs exceed the AL capabilities.  I have already pared down to one vehicle when he quit driving.  Will his very modest monthly pension get snapped up towards nursing home expenses forever once we have to move him there?  It doesn't even cover the AL/nursing fees now but certainly helps.
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People give bad advice. Get second opinions from experts. An expert is someone who does something for a living. Lawyers, doctors, nursing home administrators, Medicaid advisors.

Advice from general people, like us here, are helpful for figuring out what questions to ask the experts. Advice from general people, like us here, should never be taken as the final word.

For example, my parents listened to family and friends about how to pay for my mom’s terminal cancer treatment. My parents went completely broke - no house, no retirement savings. They lost everything and then she died.

When my dad got sick I asked experts about how to pay for his care. That’s when I learned the truth: my parents never had to loose their house, never had to loose their savings, never had to become a destitute burden on me. By then it was too late.

They listened to well intentioned family and friends and we suffered for it. Get your advice from multiple experts so you don’t end up like them.
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Frances73 Oct 8, 2021
Good idea, there should be a social worker at your doctor's office or the facility who,has experience doing this.
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Chiokara, the "people" who are "advising" you:  are they attorneys?   If not, remember that they may have experience with Medicaid, but that doesn't mean they have the knowledge to share with you, as to your particular situation.  Although they may be helpful, you can't rely on their advice as you could someone who's educationally and experientially qualified to provide it.

I can't even count the number of times I've been given wrong "advice" by people who either thought they were helping, or thought they were qualified to provide expert information.  And that isn't just on medical or caring issues.  

In the decades I worked in law, whether at a court level or for law firms, I've only twice (that I can remember) encountered attorneys who were unqualified, but it was on the basis of integrity as opposed to misinformation to clients.
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Chlokara Oct 6, 2021
Thank you.
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You are on the right track by speaking with an attorney. All states administer Medicaid slightly differently but............... the rights of a legally married spouse are totally different than those of children. Medicaid is generally not trying to make the "community spouse" (the person who remains in the house) homeless although you will have to pay for your utilities, house maintenance insurance and real estate tax. You and your husband have a legal relationship. Parents and their adult children, with the exception of a child who has been designated guardian or DPoA, have a moral relationship and even then there are exceptions. When I had to consider placement for my Mom, I was allowed to continue to live in the house because I had lived there as her caregiver for over 5 years even though the title was in both names. That would not have been the case if I had not lived in the house for 5 years.

If your attorney is well recommended and specializes in eldercare and Medicaid, please continue to work with him. The well being friends are coming from a different view.
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Reply to geddyupgo
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THey're not going to kick you out of the house. You can live there for the rest of your life. But, I'm not sure what happens when you do sell the house??

Makes sense that you get to keep your pension and social security. His would go to the facility.

When you say "my" savings, is it all your own money? Is husband joint? Does he have his own savings?

Sounds like a nightmare. Sorry you are getting conflicting advice.
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Chlokara Oct 6, 2021
Attorney says even if the savings is in my name alone, which it happens to be, they are counted as joint as far as Medicaid goes. But my savings, although great to me, are under the minimum that can be kept.
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Your home and One car are exempt. Medicaid may place a lien on the home when your husband passes. You can stay in your home until you pass. At your death, Medicaid Estate Recovery may try to collect from your estate. You will not be impoverished. They will not take your pension or SS.
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