As the population ages and people are living longer than ever before, an increasing number of people find they need help at home.   Because the cost of paying for home care privately can be impossibly burdensome, many families choose instead to apply for Community  Medicaid (i.e. home care) to cover the cost.

In order to apply for Community Medicaid, the applicant must first become financially eligible.  An experienced elder law attorney can guide a prospective applicant and his or her loved ones through the process of becoming eligible and submitting the Medicaid application.

However, although having an attorney will be helpful in the process, there are still a number of things that the Medicaid applicant or his or her loved ones will need to do.

In this two-part blog, we will first discuss what the Medicaid applicant and his or her loved ones will need to do.  Part 2 will discuss what an attorney can take off your plate!

The Medicaid applicant, or his or her loved ones, should expect to do the following when preparing for and submitting an application for Community Medicaid:

  1. Requesting financial statements and other financial documentation. Requesting financial statements and following up until those statements are received (which may involve contact with banks, brokerages, life insurance companies, etc.) and providing them to the attorney.
  2. Gathering important identity documents. Going through the applicant and their spouse’s things to find crucial identity documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, military discharge papers, etc. and providing them to the attorney.
  3. Requesting and obtaining identity documents that cannot be located. Requesting documents from various government agencies and following up until those documents are received, which may involve, calling, emailing, or visiting the issuing agency and providing them to the attorney.
  4. Arranging for neighbors or friends to sign simple forms. Speaking to neighbors and friends of loved ones to arrange for necessary residency forms to be filled out, wherein someone will state how long they knew the Medicaid applicant to be living at a certain address for at least X amount of time, and providing them to the attorney.
  5. Arranging for the applicant’s doctor to fill out medical forms. Contacting the Medicaid applicant’s doctor(s) and arranging for them to fill out forms attesting to the need for home care and providing them to the attorney.
  6. Moving assets out of the Medicaid applicant’s name. Speaking with various financial institutions and taking all actions necessary to transfer assets out of the Medicaid applicant’s name so that they are under the Medicaid resource allowance and providing documentation of such transfers to the attorney.

Notice a common theme?  The real responsibility of the Medicaid applicant and/or his or her loved ones will be to provide documentation to the attorney.   With adequate, appropriate documentation, the attorney can ensure that any issues with eligibility or the Medicaid application ultimately being successful are timely addressed, alleviating stress from the applicant and his or her family.  Without adequate documentation from the Medicaid applicant or his or her loved ones, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the attorney to get the Medicaid applicant eligible for Community Medicaid and the application approved.

Generally, a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy or HIPAA Authorization will be indispensable in allowing the applicant’s loved ones to access all of the necessary documentation.  If the Medicaid applicant does not have these important documents in place, the counsel of an experienced elder law attorney should be sought immediately.

Stay tuned for Applying for Community Medicaid – Part 2: What Your Attorney Can Do.

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