Elder Law / Medicaid & VA Pension / Long Term Care Estate Planning

Long Term Care Generally

The high and ever increasing cost of long term care has made legal planning a critically important issue for individuals of any age, but especially seniors and their families. Statistics show that a significant percentage of individuals will need long term care during their lifetime. Unfortunately, most are unprepared for the immense financial burden it will place on them, as well as their families, and their hard earned savings. Consequently, many families face the depletion of their entire estate and financial devastation.

Long Term Care Financing Options

While some individuals and their families are able to afford over the time the immense costs associated with long term care, the spiraling cost of long term care will swallow up the savings of all but the wealthiest of families in a matter of years. Those who have planned ahead, including the purchase of long term care insurance, will have a greater degree of certainty, protection, and peace of mind, with the knowledge and the structure that a well-devised plan provides. With long term care insurance in place, they know that they reduced (but not eliminated entirely) the need to have to tap into hard earned savings in order to meet the cost of their future care. Many individuals, however, are unable to obtain long term care insurance, due to age or a pre-existing medical condition or diagnosis, or because they simply cannot afford to purchase the coverage to begin with or the annual premiums to maintain the coverage over time. If individuals do have long term insurance, they are well advised to know what your policy covers in terms of type or level of care, the time period before the policy will begin to pay out benefits, the amount of benefits payable on a monthly basis, and the conditions under which a claim can be filed and benefits actually paid out. Many traditional long term care insurance policies can have high deductibles or may only provide for a short period of coverage in a facility, including a nursing home. Many individuals who have long term insurance may yet need to consider the use of Medicaid benefits in order to meet the high cost of their care, specifically care provided in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility.

Medicaid Benefits

Medicaid is an option available to aid in paying for long term care, specifically care provided in a nursing home or at a skilled nursing facility, for both single and married individuals. Medicaid is a federal program, administered through the individual states, and, as such, is financed jointly between the federal government and the individual states. Medicaid provides medical and care assistance to individuals who have limited means, including minimal income and/or assets, due to their age (65 or older), disability, or blindness. Medicaid is the single largest payer of nursing home care in the United States. Since Medicaid is administered through the individual states, the eligibility rules can and do vary from state to state. There are, however, federally imposed financial standards and rules, which each state must follow in setting financial eligibility for benefits.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Pension Benefits

The VA Pension program, administered at the federal level by and through the Department of Veterans Affairs, are monthly benefits that may be available to certain qualifying veterans or the surviving spouses of certain qualifying veterans to aid the veteran or the surviving spouse in paying for his or her monthly unreimbursed medical expenses. Qualification for the receipt of VA Pension benefits is also "means-tested" financially and requires that the veteran or the surviving spouse in submitting a claim have limited income and net worth (assets), along with a need for continuous and ongoing aid and attendance with various activities of daily living. VA Pension benefits may be used to help a veteran or a surviving spouse pay for care provided to them at home, or at an assisted living facility, or at a nursing home or skilled-nursing facility. The monthly VA Pension benefit amount received by a veteran or a surviving spouse, if approved, varies due to their claim status; additionally, the monthly amount paid to a veteran or a surviving spouse is limited to a maximum rate, which varies again on the basis of claim status. Similar to Medicaid, VA Pension benefits may be an option for some individuals to finance current or future long term care costs.

Benefit Planning & Consultation

Our firm has the knowledge and the experience to help individuals and their families review and consider both Medicaid and VA Pension benefits (including eligibility for either one or both) as a option for financing long term care and the legal planning that can occur to avoid the financial devastation caused by a need for long term care. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to start the process of understanding long term care, the options available to pay for long term care, and the legal planning that can occur to help protect and preserve your estate from financial depletion, including Medicaid eligibility planning and the availability of VA Pension benefits.

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The Laiderman Law Firm, P.C. assists clients with Estate Planning, Probate / Estate Administration, Business Law, Business Retainer Service, Real Estate Law, Special Needs Planning and Elder Law / Medicaid Planning in Missouri area including St. Louis, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County, St. Peters and Lake St. Louis.

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