The most pressing elder law concern at the present time is the matter of long-term care and the costs that go along with it. Many people assume that Medicare would pay for living assistance, but in fact, this program does not pay for custodial in-home care or a stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Long-Term Care Costs
About 70 percent of elders will eventually need help with their activities of daily living, so this is a situation that you should take quite seriously. Genworth Financial is a company that sells financial products for senior citizens. Because of their demographic, they conduct annual surveys that shed light on the state of long-term care costs in our country.
According to their research, in 2019, the median cost for a year in a private room in a Rochester area nursing home was almost $160,000. For a home health aide, the median cost was an eye-opening $64,636. This represents a 13 percent increase over the previous year, so the trending is going in the wrong direction.
The solution for most people that need long-term care late in their lives is Medicaid. This is a jointly administered federal/state government health insurance program for people that have very sparse resources.
In New York, the limit on countable assets this year is $15,750. That sounds incredibly low, but in most states, the limit is $2000 or less.
Some assets that you may have in your possession do not count, including, in some circumstances, your home with an equity limit of $893,000 this year. This is a figure that is adjusted annually to account for inflation, so you may see a somewhat higher limit next year.
One motor vehicle is not counted, along with wedding rings, engagement rings, and heirloom jewelry. Up to $1500 in whole life insurance is allowed, along with the same amount set aside for final expenses.
Furniture and other household items and personal belongings are not counted, and you can have unlimited term life insurance.
You can give away countable assets to qualify, but you have to complete all gift giving at least five years before you submit your application.
If you violate this rule, you will remain ineligible for a period of time that is calculated based on the amount of the divestitures. For example, if you gave away enough to pay for one year of nursing home care, your eligibility would be delayed by one year.
New York Assisted Living and In-Home Care Waiver
As we touched upon previously, there are in-home health aides that can provide high levels of care. Some people can stay in their places of residence, and many would prefer this arrangement if it is at all possible.
The New York Assisted Living and In-Home Care Waiver is potentially available to elders that need assistance with their activities of daily living. It is part of the Medicaid program, so there are income and asset limits. However, it is called a “waiver” because some of the requirements are not as stringent as the full-blown Medicaid requirements.
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