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Hi, I have been taking care of my father since I was 18 (22 now). I moved in with him knowingly giving up much of my life to dedicate to his health and well being. He had taken a bad fall leaving him mentally and physically disabled. Recently, he has fallen again but now due to the severity of his injuries..he will not be able to return home. I have built my life here in his home. I hardly have money because I haven't been able to work a steady job due to caring for him despite my efforts to find something flexible enough. His future points to long term nursing home... will medicaid come after the house although I am living in it with no where else to go? I'm scared, freaking out, and on top of this I'm dealing with the heart break of my fathers current condition. I don't have power of attorney because by the time I realized I should have gotten it, it was too late and his mental illness declined greatly over the past couple of years. I have things ready for legal guardianship... is that really a good idea though? Basically he had a TBI, Traumatic brain injury from the first accident..giving him the symptoms of dementia, he now suffers another TBI. Not sure if I put this in the correct topic..

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Whosker - hmmmm, your dad is young isn't he. Maybe in his 40's or early 50's?
So much on this forum is gear towards dealing with the true elderly or advanced elderly and that is a whole different timeframe and issues. Since both you & dad are young and I bet dad is still physically with the potential to get better physically (like walk, sit) if he gets the proper PT & OT, there could be the possibility of dad moving back home after living in a good NH with a very good rehab wing. You want to keep this in mind and have this as your mantra in your approach to the house and to what is said in court. Understand?

You need the house and need some of dad's funds (income) for the upkeep on the house so that he can move back home to his house in the future. The Medicaid MERP program only does recovery if the person is 55 or older at the time they got on Medicaid (at least that is how is reads in the law). So if that is your Dad then you don't have to fret about MERP program (that another poster wrote about). I bet this is done specifically for situations like yours because a 48 year old could still have a young family….like you!

You want to be able to get whatever Dad's SSDI or other income diverted to the point so that you can pay on the stuff for the house and therefore stay at the house. Medicaid can do this and does this all the time for those who go into a NH and are putting the house on the market (my state does this for 6 month period but you have to have an active Realtor contract to see the house). Your situation is different but should be able to be done. You also should mention that you plan on seeing him regular to help with his OT & PT, that your & dad's goal is to one day have him walk back into his home. Getting a letter from his current or past OT/PT that what you did with dad @ home in regards to his exercises, etc made a HUGE difference, will make you look competent and understanding and committed to assisting in dad 's recovery. You might even say that you are planning on going to apply to educational programs for PR or OT in the future…..Good luck girl!
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Whosker - I'd like to add to what may happen @ the guardianship hearing. Often family will not be named guardian. The judge may instead do a temporary guardianship to a state appointed (and vetted) person who does guardianships. Usually this is done when there is family in-fighting and gives the family a cooling off period to become all kum-ba-ya; or there is something in the family guardianship applicant's background of concern (like they have lousy credit or have no visible means of support or someone in the household has a record.) I mention this because as you are young and have basically put your life on hold to take care of your dad you might not have the credit score or other items within your paperwork that the judge expects to see for a guardian. Guardianship has a lot more financial duties and reporting. You will serve yourself well to put together basically a resume of all the financial and organizational items you did for dad. Do it in as much detail as possible. Did you do his taxes….then put all that down. Did you schedule repairs to the house and oversee them and pay…then put that in. Di you work with his doc's in establishing and maintaining therapies or exercises to increase his abilities….then put that all in too. The caregiving you did is important but you need to stress it was more than cleaning & fixing meals.

This is not meant to offend you but being a caregiver is not really valued as it is expected for family just to do…..and for free.

Also letters attesting to your maturity will be important. Like something from a neighbor who can state that the yard has been beautifully maintained; or from dad
therapists that your work with dad at home was terrific, etc.

You need to do this as your age will work against you as you will not be viewed as mature enough for guardian….you will go off to college…go away and get married..yada, yada. If you get the vibe that this is the position that the court is heading towards, then get it to be a co-guardianship for a set period of time (like 6 months) and then another hearing then to evaluate the situation.

Dress nice but sensible (no flip flops or sandals or spiky heels). minimal jewelry that doesn't make noise (like bangle bracelets) and if you have tat's wear something to hide it or put concealer on it. More JCPenny than Forever 21. Oh & the judge is the most important person (& the best looking even if he looks like Jabba the Hut). If he asks you things, look right at him, pause, & answer, do NOT turn to look at your attorney for the answer. Practice answering ?'s
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Whosker..hope you have been able to get the financial on the road..looking at your last post. The emotions you must be going through and the strength you must have! bless you and prayers for you. I just lost my dad recently ... His denpmemtia started because of TBI...it was a long hard road.. Dad was my friend and mentor. You must be one special lady..
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I wish you the very best, please get a lawyer to help with the house and find an avenue for job training. You obviously have a strong work ethic and a good heart. You have done what you can for dad, a facility sounds like the next step and it will allow you to go on as well.
Blessings
L
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Whosker, I am older, but in very similar circumstances. I'm hoping the house is paid for. You can easily lose the house if the property taxes are not paid, even if you win the other issues. I advise you to pay all the bills from your own account- write checks because they are a paper trail that is evidence you need. I'm not a lawyer, but I know a few things about preparing for court.
1) you will not be allowed much verbal time; hearings are unfair that way. Usually it comes down to a few key questions, and you better have the answers that will help.
2) If you haven't done this yet, create a file of evidence. Anything and everything that pertains to your dad, his condition, the finances, your residency, witness letters, etc.
3) In the file, have a cover sheet outlining every document or reciept, and have the items also numbered. If you end up in court, be prepared to provide a copy to the judge. They will not take time to listen to a drawn-out story. All your statements and answers need to be brief, and carry impact.
As for the lawyer, there are lot's of them! Keep searching until you find one who will give you a free consult, or apply your fee towards services!
I will keep you in my prayers!
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Thank you everyone for your answer's. It gave me the little bit confidence which I've desperately been needing. I met with my father's old lawyers yesterday and went through with the Legal Guardian ship. I am just waiting on the Doctors to fill out the forms stating that he needs a Guardian. I also have made an appointment with a Lawyer who deals with these kind of things for the 22nd. (385$ just to talk them though... wow)

Before this happened to my father, we were very close. He was living alone and I would spend as much time as I was able to here. I'll never regret moving in to take care of him after his first accident. We live in NJ... and I feel I most certainly kept him out of a nursing home for those years I cared for him. I have had to lock up everything in the house; Fridge, medicine cabinet, cleaning supplies, anything dangerous he could get into because he lost sense of what was edible, what was not, and would keep eating until he threw up..then continue to eat still. I prepared his meals 3 times a day. Medication's day and night. Helped him shower, cleaned up after his accidents, changed him, brought him to doctor's appointments. He lost the ability to properly communicate or speak. His vocabulary consisted of about 3-5 words right before this happened.

I'm not giving up the house without a fight & going to make sure my father still gets the medical care he needs. It's so different not having him around. I still haven't turned off his TV since this happened.. and it happened a month ago.

I really appreciate your thorough answer's. I've read them all.. Thank you!! Praying everything works out and that it's going to be OK.
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Also--mad props for doing this at 18-22. I started at 33, am now 34, and it's incredibly hard. Good on you for doing what was probably the morally right, but very difficult thing to do.
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The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program, known as MERP, might try to come after the home to recover the expenses. But, there are laws on the books to protect a spouse and certain children and heirs from being evicted and there is a list of guidelines they follow. I have printed them for you below and personally, I think you're probably safe to keep the home on several of these factors. I suggest you go to a lawyer now to be sure you are protected. Check with Social Services or Legal Aid in your area to see if you qualify for free or reduced rate legal assistance. I went through this, and it's scary and some of the employees of MERP are rude, obnoxious and some are even downright mean and they will accuse you of the most hurtful things. Put your armor on and let it roll off your shoulders. Even at your young age, you were strong enough to take care of your father, so you don't deserve anything these people say! LISTEN TO ME, YOU ARE AN ANGEL for having done this. Just keep that in mind while you deal with MERP. Hopefully, you'll get lucky and get one of their caring employees but I beg you not to deal with them directly. You really do need a lawyer if they try to come after YOUR home. I don't know where you live, but the rules are pretty much the same for every state in America. I copied this one from Texas simply because I've found it to be the easiest to understand and it lists the rules pretty succinctly. After you read the following guidelines I'm betting MERP won't have any grounds to take your home.

The MERP applies only to some of the long-term Medicaid services, like nursing home care, extended in-home services, and prescription drugs supported by Medicaid. It is important realize that the MERP will only file a claim on a person’s estate if doing so is cost effective. The MERP will not file a claim when:
- the value of the estate is less than $10,000;
- there is a spouse who is still alive;
- there is a child under 21 years of age;
- there is a child of any age who is blind or permanently and totally disabled;
- there is an unmarried adult child who lived in the person’s home for at least one year before the Medicaid recipient died;
- the amount of recoverable Medicaid costs are $3,000 or less; or
- the cost of selling the property would be more than or equal to the value of the property.
The state of Texas will also not ask for monetary reimbursement if doing so would cause an undue hardship for the deceased person’s heirs. In order to be granted an undue hardship request, the person’s heirs must ask for it, and provide documentation that proves the hardship. Some scenarios that MERP recognizes as undue hardships occur when:
- the estate property was a family business, farm, or ranch for at least 12 months prior to the Medicaid recipient’s death, and this property is the main source of income for their heirs;
- the estate property produces at least 50% of the heir’s livelihood;
- recovery by the state would affect the property and result in heirs losing their primary source of income; or
- the estate’s beneficiaries would be eligible for public or medical assistance if a recovery claim is collected.
- Other compelling reasons may exist.

This site, from the US Government, is completely worthless as it doesn't begin to tell you what the exemptions are. I include it here simply as a matter of reference for you to look at (you'll quickly see it's the government at its worse).
http://longtermcare.gov/medicare-medicaid-more/medicaid/medicaid-estate-recovery/

This site, also from the US Government, is only slightly better, and you will see why I used the Texas site to help you rather than directly using the US website. http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Eligibility/Estate-Recovery.html

I'm here to talk to you should you need it. I went through it and won because I was in the right. I cared for Mom for 25 years, 15 by just checking on her 3-4 times daily and the last 10 by bringing her into my home. I saved the government nearly $300,000.00 by caring for Mom all those years, so I fought back and hard, especially after the MERP employees treated me the way they did. So, if you need to ask a question, or just vent your frustrations, I'll happily listen and do what I can. GOD BLESS YOU!
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I think in some states you can get the house if you've been living in it caring for the patient for at least 2 years (which you have). But ultimately you will need to speak to an attorney to figure out what rights you have or just research the issue on your own. I would try your local Legal Aid office, or call the local bar association and find out if they have a roster of attorneys who offer brief phone consultations for a low fee (in NYC it's like $50 for 35 minutes or something like that). As for POA/guardianship I can't think of a reason you wouldn't want it. Does someone else have it now? There should be someone who can make decisions about his care, and since you've been doing it for the past few years, you should probably be the person to continue it. Guardianship isn't an insult in any way--I don't know why you would be hesitant to do it. If he has a TBI resulting in dementia symptoms he _needs_ a guardian. Just think about it this way--if he were in his right mind and you told him what the situation is, wouldn't he _want_ you to apply for guardianship so you could be an advocate for him?
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I don't know the law, but I do know that caregivers have rights. You need some legal advice, and without money to pay for it, I guess if I were you, I would start by meeting with his physician and getting a list of the aging resources in your town. There may be free legal advice out there. Who is paying all his bills right now, if there is no power of attorney set up and you do not yet have guardianship? And relax about the house....because even with Medicaid approval, which can take months, they will not take the house until the end of the process, so you have some time. Are you paying the bills? Is there a mortgage on the property? We are in process of all this with my Dad, but Mom is still living in the house and I do have an elder care attorney to help....but there IS legal paperwork that must be done re: all the property and Medicaid, at least in AZ, says the person can own a house, a car and have $2000 in the bank at any time, and Medicaid cannot take those away until the end. But caregivers, have a right to live in the home too, though I cannot quote the law on that part. I am sure there are others here who've dealt with that part of it.
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