Doctor Examining an Elderly Patient

People who have approached Medicaid for assistance to help pay for nursing home care have long run into the “Look-back period.”

Medicaid is designed to help Americans who are unable to pay for nursing home care but the agency takes a long look at those who have recently transferred assets.

Since Medicaid is only supposed to be available for people who do not have the means to support themselves the government is concerned about elderly people transferring their assets to qualify for eligibility. State agencies will scrutinize any transfer of assets within the prior five years of applying for Medicaid eligibility.

This is known as the “Look-back period.”

Elder Law Answers recently discussed how it works in “How Does the Medicaid Look-Back Period Work?“.

The key thing to keep in mind is that not all transfers are disqualifying. Transfers made for fair market value are perfectly acceptable. It is transfers of assets for below value that can get an applicant in trouble.

Thus, you can sell a home through a realtor to an independent third-party for market value, but you cannot sell a home to a perfectly able adult child for pennies on the dollar. Some transfers for less than fair market value are allowed as well. For example, transfers to a spouse or a disabled child are allowed. There are different rules for allowable home transfers as well.

An elder law attorney could guide you in acceptable asset transfers.

Reference: Elder Law Answers (March 23, 2016) “How Does the Medicaid Look-Back Period Work?

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.