Elder Law Attorney vs. Medicaid Specialist
The time has come, and you or your parents are in need of Medicaid. As you begin to plan for what’s to come, you are probably wondering what type of professional services can help you along the way. Some of the most pressing questions that we encounter, include: What is the difference between an Elder Law Attorney vs a Medicaid Specialist? Which is the best option for you and your family? This article will help guide you through these questions and help you understand which option is best for you and your family. If you have any additional questions or are ready to get the process started, please go to our contact page here: Contact Us
Why You Need an Elder Law Attorney?
Medicaid is designed to cover long-term care for seniors and disabled adults. Today, it’s by far the leading payer of long-term health costs in the United States. At some point in their lives, more than two-thirds of elderly people need some long-term care at a cost of $60,000 or more per year. The cost of long-term care can quickly run through savings.
Many families begin the process of applying for Medicaid on behalf of a senior while acting as a proxy, during a transition from short-term to long-term care. Because Medicaid is a need-based program with very specific requirements that may require spending down assets, and a “pending” status after a correctly submitted application still isn’t enough to be admitted to many nursing homes, it’s crucial to ensure your Medicaid application is done correctly.
For Medicaid done right, you can work with one of two types of Medicaid specialists. Here’s how Medicaid specialists and elder law attorneys compare when it comes to applying for Medicaid coverage.
Do You Need Help to File for Medicaid?
You can certainly apply for Medicaid on your own at no cost. When Medicaid rules seem pretty easy to understand and the process is free, it may seem unnecessary to pay for an elder care attorney or Medicaid specialist to help you or a loved one apply for benefits.
The truth is a Medicaid expert can help you save thousands by structuring your estate properly and helping you navigate complex issues like “look back rules, state mandates, and information gathering.
To receive Medicaid, a senior must meet specific medical and financial criteria. Depending on the senior’s assets, they may also need to go through a spend-down period to privately pay for care until their assets fall below a certain threshold. After this period, a senior can be considered “pending Medicaid” and still unable to receive long-term care under Medicaid.
With the right expert on your side, you can receive help for Medicaid done right. That means:
- Help during the Medicaid application process
- Help meeting asset and income guidelines
- Assistance with strategies that protect and maximize assets and income
This process, called Medicaid planning, is a completely legal solution to help seniors receive Medicaid benefits while preserving their assets and income as much as possible.
There are two types of professionals who can help you file for Medicaid: a Medicaid specialist or an elder law attorney.
What Is a Medicaid Specialist?
A Medicaid specialist is someone who specializes in helping seniors become eligible for Medicaid. This can include securing the required documentation and assisting with the application process.
While a Medicaid specialist can be helpful if you have a very simple situation, Medicaid specialists generally are not lawyers. This means the specialist can’t help coordinate other Medicaid planning issues like trusts, estate planning, powers of attorney, and long-term care planning.
What Is an Elder Law Attorney?
An elder care lawyer can do everything a Medicaid specialist offers in addition to legal services related to estate planning and Medicaid planning. In addition to expert knowledge and advice on Medicaid topics, a Medicaid attorney also offers expertise in broad areas of eldercare.
If your needs will extend beyond the Medicaid application itself, or you need assistance qualifying for Medicaid, an elder care lawyer can help with issues such as:
- Irrevocable and revocable trusts
- Special needs trusts for adults with a disability
- Healthcare surrogates
- Guardianship, proxies, and powers of attorney
- Elder abuse or neglect issues
Medicaid Specialist vs Elder Law Attorney: Which Is Right for You?
If you have a fairly straightforward or simple Medicaid case, a Medicaid specialist may be a good fit to help you make sure your application is done correctly and follow up on the process.
A Medicaid lawyer is generally recommended if you have any complications in your case. You may want to work with an elder law attorney if any of the following are true:
- You need to spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid. Only certain expenses qualify to spend down assets and qualify for Medicaid such as medical bills or legitimate debts. Hiring an elder attorney is considered an allowable way to spend down assets.
- You want comprehensive long-term care planning. Paying for long-term care can be difficult, even with Medicaid. A Medicaid lawyer can incorporate legal Medicaid planning strategies to plan for your long-term care. This may include anything from powers of attorney and revocable trusts to guardianship.
- You want to protect assets. Medicaid is a needs-based program that requires seniors have very limited means in terms of income and assets. That doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice all of your assets to pay for long-term care. An experienced elder care attorney can help you protect your assets with a variety of strategies that still allow you to qualify for Medicaid.
Applying for Medicaid can be a complicated process, especially if your case is at all complicated or you want to protect assets. If you are ready to apply for Medicaid for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Sheryll Law to speak with an experienced New York Medicaid attorney to begin the process and explore Medicaid planning options.