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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13443
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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My mother had a stroke and is completely wheelchair bound,

Customer Question

My mother had a stroke and is completely wheelchair bound, requiring 24 hr care. Initially we thought she would recover, and we brought her to my sister's house where she has always lived. Unfortunately,she was hospitalized again and we was placed in a RI nursing home for rehabillation. Afterward she was transferred to a MA nursing home. However, while my mom was at home she hired a contractor to widen the doorways and remodel the bathroom closest to her bedroom so it would be wheelchair accessible in my sister's home (where she lived). She paid them the money she owed with some of the social security money she later received while living at the nursing home. She also spent some of the money on a $1500 lift assist and additional money on wheelchair ramp, clothes and a few other necessities. My mom has been in a MA nursing home since Feb 2015, during that time she was changed from short care term to long care term. Mass Health has paid their portion up to Dec 2015. Mass Health sent a letter informing her she's responsible for $607 per month of her nursing home bills. My mom never signed a nursing home release for them to take her social security and pension check, so the nursing home hasn't received any of that money and its been accumulating in her checking account. The nursing home has given me a direct deposit switch form to fill out and ask her to sign. They want me to fill in our checking account number and the re-directed amount to be direct deposited into the nursing home's bank acct. My mom and I have a joint checking account (both our names on it). By filling out this form is she or I making us liable for the other money owed from 2015? She doesn't have the full amount to give them, will she be responsible or liable? Can the nursing home come after me for payment? Will Mass Health stop payments if full payment is not received?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

What you sign depends on the language - but if it does not indicate you yourself are liable for her care for ANY month, then typically you'd not be. She on the other hand, would be liable, most likely, regardless of what she signs. If there is no direct signing by her for her care and residence there, there would certainly be an implied contract of which the nursing home has performed its obligations but your mom has not - her part is to pay the monthly bill.

I don't see Mass Health stopping payments, since they should not be out any money, but the nursing home has not been paid. It could end up that they require she leave, if she refused to pay her bill (the portion she is responsible for, given the fact that she actually has income to help support herself. But, Mass Health may be stopping payment because of your mom's accumulated wealth, if she is no longer 'poor' enough for that kind of assistance (welfare). Eventually, she will have no place to stay if she doesn't start paying the bill she owes with the money she has available for her own support. That is generally how long term care welfare works - we pay what we can and the state pays the rest.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.

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Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

That said, if I were you I'd NOT put any of my own money in the joint bank account - money all looks the same and if it is in her account, she now arguably owns it until you prove otherwise. I'd have a new checking account used, let her money pay for any delinquent bills she has accumulated and keep yourself separate.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Stephanie, Ive never put any of my money in that account. It only has her SSI checks going into it. However, I did transfer money into my checking account to pay bills and purchase the lift assist and other things for her. At the time just seemed easier for me. Ugh. Would that make me look bad and possibly now liable, if they don't get all the money she owes them? She spent @ $4,000 that really belongs to the nursing home. I'm so concerned she's going to lose her MA Health because they require bank statements every 6 months. I can pay the nursing home whatever she has left in her (joint) account, but am concerned because my name is ***** ***** account too.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
why was I charged the additional $34 when we haven;t finished the discussion?
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I haven't charged or received anything. You will want to follow up with your customer service link and they will happily straighten anything out for you to your satisfaction. I am not an employee of the site and have no connection with that aspect.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

No, I don't think that makes you look bad, I think it is relatively understood that the rules can be confusing. It won't likely get her off the hook for failing to pay her bill, so that is something you will have to address. I do not see that you helping her buy her items makes you liable for her nursing home bill.

You will need to give them the bank statements. Owing $4000 is not the end of the world, but you need to negotiate a payment plan and likely prove to MA Health that she does not have $4000 sitting there. It may be worth a discussion with the nursing home AND medicaid to make sure both parties are in agreement as to solution. If you are concerned about your name on an account, you can easily change that. Speak to your bank.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

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