elderly woman in wheelchair sitting at a table with caregiverWith monthly costs ranging from $8,000 to $12,000, long-term nursing care is not affordable for most families. While Medicare will cover care in a skilled nursing facility, it will only do so for up to 100 days and only if you meet certain requirements. Medicaid will cover the cost of long-term care but, as a needs-based, means-tested government program, qualifying can be complicated and requires careful planning.

The best time to plan for Medicaid eligibility is well in advance of any need. However, if a sudden illness or serious accident has left you in need of long-term care much sooner than anticipated, we can still help. When you have an immediate or imminent need for long-term nursing care, Cucinelli Geiger's compassionate and capable elder law attorneys can help you explore options for Medicaid crisis planning and determine how to qualify for coverage. Here's what you should know.

Virginia Medicaid Long-Term Care Eligibility

Virginia offers more than one Medicaid long-term care program for seniors. Institutional Medicaid, also known as nursing home Medicaid, is an entitlement, meaning that anyone who meets the income, asset, and other eligibility requirements can receive these services. As the name suggests, this program only covers care provided in nursing home facilities. Virginia Medicaid also provides Medicaid waivers for home and community-based services, which allow seniors to receive care at home or in an adult daycare or assisted living facility. However, these services are only available to a limited number of participants.

Income and Asset Limits

Virginia Medicaid income and asset limits can vary. The following is based on 2021 figures. Contact an attorney for the most recent information.

  • Income limits. The income limit is $2382 per month for a single applicant or a married applicant when only one spouse applies for benefits. If both spouses are applying, the monthly income limit goes up to $4,764. Any income the person applying for Medicaid receives is counted for eligibility purposes, including employment wages, SSDI or SSI benefits, alimony payments, pension payments, stock dividends, and IRA withdrawals.
  • Asset limits. The asset limit is $2,000 for a single applicant and $3,000 regardless of whether one or both married spouses apply.

Oftentimes, people find that they have too much income or too many resources, or both, to meet Medicaid's strict eligibility requirements. When that happens, our attorneys can help.

Never Follow Medicaid Planning Advice Heard Through the Grapevine

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in crisis Medicaid planning is following well-meaning advice from friends or family members. While the advice given may have worked for them in their situation, that's no guarantee that it will work for you in yours. In fact, following advice from someone who isn't a professional and isn't thoroughly familiar with your finances and care needs can have serious consequences.

For example, while giving away excess assets to friends and family may sound like a reasonable strategy for reaching eligibility, it can cause you to run afoul of Medicaid's five-year look-back period. This can seriously cost you—both in terms of money and how long it takes you to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage.

Smarter Strategies

Whereas gifting is one of the worst possible moves you can make in crisis Medicaid planning, there are a number of far more effective ways to qualify for long-term nursing care while preserving assets for a spouse at home or other family members, such as converting countable assets into non-countable assets. Find out how our tenacious Virginia elder law attorneys can help you explore legal strategies for speeding up Medicaid eligibility and approval while limiting how much you have to pay and increasing the assets and income you can keep.

Schedule a Consultation

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your crisis Medicaid planning needs with a member of our legal team.

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