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Medicaid Qualification Process

Sensitive Guidance in Elder Law Matters from a Nashville Attorney

As one reaches “a certain age,” there may be many issues that should be handled in order to protect family members who would be left behind in the event of a death or business associates who would be left to deal with the consequences of a long-term disability or another life-altering event. The compassionate elder law attorney at our office helps Tennessee residents see the full picture in matters of estate planning, family law, and asset protection. In addition to basic considerations such as wills, trusts, health care proxies, and living wills, Nashville Medicaid qualification lawyer Randy Ratliff can guide a client through complex issues so that they can understand how the program works and how benefits received from it may help pay for costly future medical needs, such as nursing home care.

Understanding the Medicaid Qualification Process

Medicaid is a federal program designed to provide health care benefits to low-income and needy people. Children and people who suffer from a long-term disability (such as blindness) are usually eligible for the program, as are people with only minimal income or assets. In Tennessee, Medicaid is administered as part of the TennCare program. Eligibility is not automatic, but many low-income individuals qualify (along with pregnant women, children, people who are institutionalized, and people who are uninsurable under other programs). Given the rising costs of long-term care, such as nursing home care or assisted living center care, the reality is that many Tennesseans may need the assistance of TennCare/Medicaid at some point in their future.

Generally, an individual is only eligible for TennCare if they have very limited income or personal assets. People who receive generous pension payments or have even a modest amount of personal wealth are likely to be rejected, based on the income eligibility guidelines. For people who want to be sure that they will qualify for the program later, there is a possibility of advance planning in the form of asset transfers to family members or, in some cases, to a trust, but this must be done well in advance of the actual need for benefits. To help you navigate through the complexities of this process, you should discuss your specific needs with a Medicaid qualification attorney in Nashville or the surrounding area.

The Look-Back Period for the Transfer of Assets

Medicaid and TennCare are only concerned with the transfer of assets for less than their full value, minus the amount received by an applicant. In other words, selling property to a third party for a reasonable amount of money is not something that will, in and of itself, prevent someone from qualifying for benefits later. (Of course, the money made from the sale may be considered an asset, but that is a different matter.)

While the look-back period varies depending upon the time when the transfer was made and the type of asset transferred, it is safe to say that any transfer of assets made currently or during the last 10 years is subject to a 60-month (five-year) look-back period. For real estate holdings, the effective date of the transfer is determined by when the deed signed by the Medicaid applicant was registered with the Register of Deeds in the county in which the property is located. For example, if an applicant signed a deed to their children transferring an interest in the family home six years ago, but the deed was not registered until two years ago, the uncompensated value of the asset is considered “available and countable” in determining whether the applicant is eligible for TennCare/Medicaid long-term services and support payments that could have potentially paid for the applicant’s nursing home care.

Talk to a Nashville Lawyer About the Medicaid Qualification Process

Experienced Medicaid planning lawyer Randy Ratliff advises people throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties, including residents of Brentwood, Antioch, Hermitage, Goodlettsville, Madison, Joelton, Franklin, and Cool Springs. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call us at 615-656-8282. Nashville Medicaid qualification attorney Randy Ratliff looks forward to putting his knowledge and skill to work in protecting your family’s future.