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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13542
Experience:  22+ years legal exp. - 12+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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My 92 yr old mother moved to my home in Florida (from

Customer Question

My 92 yr old mother moved to my home in Florida (from Alabama) last October. The state of AL has been paying her Part B payment under a QMB program, which has now been cut off. Her only income is her SS payment (a little over $800 per month), and will now be less as she will have to pay the $104 per month for Part B coverage. We applied for medicaid assistance with prescriptions through Access Florida and were denied because of too many assets. She owns her home in Alabama (which I thought did not enter into the assets), has an annuity for a little over $20,000, a small life ins policy, and around $10,000 in ck'g and savings. She has been holding onto the annuity for the possibility that she may need some nursing home care before she dies and the funds in ck'g and savings to pay for her funeral. Is it immoral or illegal to convey some of these assets so she can qualify for medical assistance? For instance, can she at this time convey her home to her 3 children, reserving a life estate (my brother's health and inability to work necessitates his moving into her house within the next couple of months)? If so, should she need long term care later on, can SS come back within a certain number of years, and make the children give back the value of mother's home?
Also, should she go ahead and use her on hand cash in ck'g and savings to prepay for her funeral and grave site and headstone, etc.? Should the funds from the annuity go into a long term insurance plan? Or will all of these steps be considered hiding of assets in order to qualify for assistance with Part B?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Good morning:

With regard to your post:

"My 92 yr old mother moved to my home in Florida (from Alabama) last October. ------OK. Mine came here 4 years ago.

"The state of AL has been paying her Part B payment under a QMB program, which has now been cut off. ----- Because of her move/change of residence to FL, presumably.

"Her only income is her SS payment (a little over $800 per month), ------- separate issue, but on whose work record is she getting this SS payment? Is it her own? Is she a widow?

"and will now be less as she will have to pay the $104 per month for Part B coverage. --------- Yes, unless she can get FL to pay it.

"We applied for medicaid assistance with prescriptions through Access Florida and were denied because of too many assets. She owns her home in Alabama (which I thought did not enter into the assets)--------- If it is not her residence, that is a wonderful investment property she can sell, rent out, have income, etc. Sounds like she doesn't "need" the welfare anymore, given this wealth she now has but doesn't live in. Real estate is not counted if it is our lived in home. Once we move, we no longer need it to put a roof over our heads, so it is not counted the same.

", has an annuity for a little over $20,000, ------ She get's $20k/year from the annuity? She definitely won't get the welfare, if that is so. Remember, welfare is needs based.

"a small life ins policy, and around $10,000 in ck'g and savings. --------- Same idea as above. Although some states, in an effort to expand the medicaid base, have agreed to the federal push for medicaid expansion, by doing away with consideration of wealth, and only requiring low/no income/work, etc. in order to receive payment from taxpayers to welfare benefits. But generally for LT care, there are limits that vary state to state.

"She has been holding onto the annuity for the possibility that she may need some nursing home care before she dies --------- Well, typically, Medicaid WILL pay for nursing home but only if she doesn't have that wealth....

"and the funds in ck'g and savings to pay for her funeral. Is it immoral or illegal to convey some of these assets so she can qualify for medical assistance? --------- There is a look back period for transferring assets for less than FMV that could have been used to support one's own needs, to others to escape paying for oneself. It can be up to 5 years. A FL medicaid specialist will be who you want to meet with to discuss the current limits in FL.

For instance, can she at this time convey her home to her 3 children, reserving a life estate (my brother's health and inability to work necessitates his moving into her house within the next couple of months)? --------- Free country, so she can do it, but she may then be ineligible for nursing home care financial support.

"If so, should she need long term care later on, can SS come back within a certain number of years,--------- YES.

"and make the children give back the value of mother's home? ------- They won't take the children's property, but the mom may lose the eligibility to have nursing home care provided.

"Also, should she go ahead and use her on hand cash in ck'g and savings to prepay for her funeral and grave site and headstone, etc.? ------- States typically have a limit on how much pre-paid will not be counted. So that is another thing you will wish to discuss with your local Medicaid specialist. She can spend it down, but some purchases are "counted" as resources to prevent people from buying $100k funeral plans at the expense of the taxpayers.

"Should the funds from the annuity go into a long term insurance plan? Or will all of these steps be considered hiding of assets in order to qualify for assistance with Part B? ------- Buying things is not necessarily "hiding" money or assets. But, you need to discuss with the medicaid specialist what the current limits are and 'uncounted' assets/resources so that she HAS LT nursing home coverage should she need it prospectively.

While you are at it, consider looking into a special needs trust that meets the Medicaid requirements in her new state. If the goal is to save the assets so the kids can have them, when mom then needs the welfare, this may not work, and this asset planning may be too late. BUT, may not! if she is healthy and may live longer than 5 more years (my two grandmothers lived to 95 and 98 respectively!), the look back period may have well passed by the time she is in need of LT care. And $10k in savings? Maybe she can enjoy life a bit, take trips, use it for enjoyment in these last years, by a good TV, etc.

Bot***** *****ne, however, is that each aspect is very fact specific and quite complicated in terms of figuring out how best to protect her assets if the plan is for her to both have LT care should she need it AND preserving assets for the kids. You want to bring all details to a lawyer in FL that prepares Medicaid Trusts, in addition to regular estate planning, so both aspects can be balanced to your mom's satisfaction, as much as possible at this late date in her life. I hope she is alive and well for several more to come, and if so, there are things you can do now, but you need to get those trust(s) drafted.

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

Kindly rate me "excellent"when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, shouldyou have legal questions. Be sure tostart future posts with "To Stephanie O Joy Esq., ONLY" ifyou want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

Your online SS legal resource!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, Stephanie, but your didn't tell me anything constructive. I already knew about the trust from the governmental sites, and trying to get an answer from the governmental employees is difficult to say the least. I just spent $35 to be told to go to a local attorney. I should have know better, having worked for attorneys for over 30 years.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry you are disappointed. I only related to you the answers to the questions you specifically asked - I am unsure why you asked them if you already knew the answers? By the way, when I say "medical specialist" I am not referring to a phone call to your local welfare office. You want the guy that drafts up the trust particularly to your mom's jurisdiction. I do not recommend doing it yourself because the details of it are very specific and failing just one seemingly small part can fail the entire trust, making the assets hers yet again, and creating a HUGE overpayment issue (as well as ongoing lack of eligibility). I realize it means paying a danged lawyer (why do you think I now exclusive do SSD work for my clients - no billing them :) but if you want to preserve her assets at all, or ensure eligibility, it is either do it right or risk it all.

And it sounds like you actually agreed with my answers, didn't it? I can only tell you the accurate truth to the extent the facts provide for - but just as a medical expert on here can not perform a visitor's needed surgery, nor can I draft the trust for you. And when you asked what may be an unlawful transfer or one that may trigger in a look back, I shared that with you. Don't know what else you want, as you mentioned nothing else.

I would urge you to precede with the suggestions, though. The legal realities that you must deal with, as we have to when these issues arise as well, are not fun, and yes, after getting the basic options down pat, and learning what direction to head it, only you can actually make that move. Unless you want to take a few thousand dollars of trust drafting courses, they do require a specific kind of trust attorney in your jurisdiction. I'd rather not snow that by you and have you keep looking for what you will not find, if it doesn't exist. As I have experienced, there is no magic bullet. However, let me see if I have a colleague here that may be able to assist further. If you have the time, perhaps consider replying back with the question you want answered, so he doesn't spend countless time as I did on what you apparently do not want, despite the appearance in the post. He can then focus on your real concerns, if you post it. Thanks! And again, I am sorry for your disappointment.

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