As New Jersey elder care attorneys we help families deal with the many issues that come with aging. Over the years, FriedmanLaw has helped clients arrange quality long term care without sacrificing their savings, protect a loved one with diminished capacity, obtain guardianship, safeguard loved ones against facility charges, resolve issues with facilities, and much more. Please click on the links below for more information, or call or email us today.
Medicaid Planning to Fund Long Term Care
With nursing homes charging over $10,000 per month, families can face financial ruin if they go it alone when a loved one needs long term care. Fortunately, sophisticated Medicaid planning techniques may help clients fund long term care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home without impoverishing loved ones. While it never is too late to plan, starting earlier usually preserves more options and savings. Read more
Applying for Medicaid
Applying for Medicaid to pay for long term care in a nursing home, assisted living facility or with home care aides can be burdensome. We can handle the application for you or guide you through the process from start to finish. Read more
Non-Attorney Medicaid Advisors
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs says at NJ Div. Consumer Affairs—
“It’s important for you to know that applying and qualifying for Medicaid assistance requires more than just filling out a form and attaching requested documents. More often than you think, the services of a qualified professional is needed to answer the questions you have and, more
important, to raise questions and concerns that you may not have even thought about….
“While non-lawyer Medicaid Advisors/Application Assistors may provide these limited services, they cannot provide advice in matters that require the professional judgment of a lawyer. Services that require the professional judgment of a lawyer include strategies (through wills, trusts, powers of
attorney, guardianships, asset transfers, spend-down of resources, gifts, estate planning and tax implications, and marriage and divorce) to facilitate Medicaid eligibility. In New Jersey, providing advice on strategies to become eligible for Medicaid is prohibited because it involves the unauthorized practice of law
“The N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs is aware that non-lawyer Medicaid Advisors/Application Assistors are offering their services to consumers in this State who may need help with completing a Medicaid application. The Division has also been told that some non-lawyer Medicaid Advisors/Application Assistors have charged consumers substantial sums of money and that, in some cases, the assistance provided was faulty or incomplete, causing the consumer ineligibility, significant financial loss or both.”
Avoiding Liability to Nursing Homes / Assisted Living Facilities & Other Issues
Never sign a nursing home or assisted living facility admission agreement, application, or financial disclosure form without counsel. These documents are contracts with all sorts of traps for the unwary. For instance, they can obligate you to a facility and limit your ability to qualify for Medicaid and protect savings. Without a good understanding of the papers, you may give up valuable legal rights and take on personal liability. We frequently negotiate more favorable terms when facility forms are onerous. We also help families we resolve other issues relating to such things as care, insurance coverage, costs, room changes, and access. Read more
Guardianship and Alternatives to Protect a Vulnerable Adult
When mental capacity declines whether due to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke, or other cause, retirement plans, savings, and investments can be frozen until a court appoints a guardian. You may be surprised to learn that spouses don’t automatically have the right to act for one another and court authorization may be needed to do Medicaid planning. Because guardianship requires a potentially time consuming and costly court proceeding, addressing capacity issues when they first arise can lead to big savings. We frequently help families obtain guardianship when needed, but we also suggest simpler alternatives when available. Thus, we urge everyone with trustworthy loved ones to enter into power of attorney and advance directive for healthcare before capacity declines as further discussed at our estate planning pages. Read more
Social Security – Retirement, Disability, and SSI
Social Security includes three separate programs. Retirement benefits vary depending on work experience, marital history, and when benefits begin. Social Security Disability and SSI are further discussed in our special needs pages [link], but Social Security Disability is somewhat akin to Social Security retirement benefits that start early due to disability while SSI is cash assistance based on financial need.
Contrary to popular perception, Social Security retirement is anything but simple and straight forward. Although benefits can start as early as age 62, taking benefits too soon or deferring their start for too long can cost many thousands of dollars in lost benefits. Because the rules that govern Social Security retirement are exceedingly complex and include numerous options, it is almost impossible to determine the best way to take benefits without substantial expertise and computer programs. Although shrouded in complex formulas and unfamiliar terms, the difference between obtaining professional advice and going it alone can be over a hundred thousand dollars. We can help you maximize Social Security benefits for you and your family.
Medicare is available to most people at the earlier of age 65, 2 years after starting to receive Social Security Disability, or on incurring certain catastrophic illnesses. Like Social Security, Medicare can appear simple, but choosing the wrong options can prove very costly.
While there is no obligation to take Medicare, failing to enroll in medical and prescription Medicare coverage when first eligible will trigger penalty premiums if you enroll later unless you have creditable alternate coverage. What coverage is creditable? The rules are quite complex and must be applied individually to determine if a particular non-Medicare health plan is sufficient to avoid penalties.
Medicare comes in 2 flavors– original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare allows you to obtain Medicare funded care from any health provider that accepts Medicare. In contrast, Medicare Advantage plans are managed care and usually limit providers and locales. However, original Medicare includes significant co-payments and deductibles so many participants also buy a Medicare Supplement (sometimes called Medigap).
Medigap supplemental insurance is available from many different providers in standardized plans designated by letters. While all Medigap A policies provide the same benefits, premiums can vary greatly by insurer. Both costs and benefits can vary greatly from one letter plan to another. For instance supplemental insurance plan A doesn’t cover foreign travel medical emergencies but plan G does.
Neither original Medicare or Medicare Advantage covered prescriptions when first enacted. Today prescription coverage is available through Medicare part D. Like Medicare itself, part D coverage is optional but if you do not have creditable prescription coverage from the time you first are eligible, you will face penalty premiums if you enroll later.
Medicare can appear deceptively simple whereas it is extremely complex and chock full of well meaning but confusing alternatives. Choose well and you can get the medical coverage you need and save a lot of money in the process. But, bad choices can trigger large expenses and premium penalties. As with Social Security, FriedmanLaw is here to help you evaluate the myriad options and help you pick the coverage that is right for you and your family.
Evaluating Long Term Care Insurance
Is long term care insurance right for you? Long term care insurance can save a great deal if an insured person has a stroke or develops dementia or other debilitating condition but it can be expensive and confusing. Qualifying policies can coordinate with Medicaid and substantially increase savings potentially available through Medicaid planning. However, the wrong policy can be a complete waste of premiums. What makes a policy good or bad? Cost, benefits, and quality of agent and insurer are the main factors. For instance, it makes little sense to buy an unduly small benefit even though that will save on premiums. While some families may like new options such as return of unused premium and combination life insurance benefits, the extra cost of these bells and whistles must be carefully evaluated. By the same token, some people may consider essential add ons like inflation riders, premium waivers, and alternate care coverage regardless of costs.
As with so many aspects of elder law, long term care insurance entails numerous alternatives that can be confusing or even tricky. We can help you wade through the options to find a policy that accomplishes your particular goals.
Elder law is so broad, we can’t list every kind of issue we’ve seen in our decades of experience. If you or a loved one has any elder law concern, we’ve probably seen similar issues and would be happy to help you resolve yours. Call or email us today.