Many people who need Medicaid benefits later in life didn’t expect that they would. After all, they can use Medicare for most of their costs after they turn 65, and they may have a career’s worth of retirement savings set aside as well.
Older adults frequently underestimate how expensive in-home care can be as they get older. They may also downplay the potential costs of living in a nursing home. Medicare won’t pay for in-home nursing support or nursing home costs.
You will need to qualify for Medicaid if you have extensive care needs as you age, which is why you need to plan ahead well before you reach that point.
Medicaid goes back over your records
The state won’t just approve you for Medicaid benefits because you have a need at the time that you apply. You can expect a careful review of years of your financial records as part of the application process. Even transfers into trusts and gifts to your family members might trigger penalties.
Although you no longer have the assets you transferred or gifted, you will have to find a way to pay a similar amount for your own care as a penalty for making transfers before applying. The state determines a set number of months of care that the money would have covered and then will expect you to pay that many months out of pocket before Medicaid benefits start.
By the time you realize you need Medicaid benefits, it will be too late to avoid the penalty. Planning for Medicaid when you approach retirement age or update your estate plan could protect you as you grow older.