In light of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, New York State has chosen to delay the implementation of a new Medicaid “look-back” rule for community home care services until April 1, 2020. The new rule would significantly impact some people’s ability to qualify for Medicaid benefits. WIth this delay, however, people have more time to reorganize their assets to better prepare for applying for Medicaid community home care benefits.

What is Medicaid Community Home Care Services?

In this context, community home care services refers to two specific programs provided by Medicaid: the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) and Personal Care Services (PCS). These programs are intended to help people pay for caring for their loved ones’ long-term healthcare needs in the comfort of their own home, rather than placing them in a nursing home or assisted living facility. For many Medicaid recipients, it allows them to maintain a relatively healthy and active lifestyle while still receiving the care they need.

What is the New “Look-Back” Rule?

The look-back rule is a new rule that changes how people qualify for Medicaid CDPAP or PCS. Medicaid is only available to people whose income is below a certain level, and who have less than a certain amount in assets. Previously, when evaluating people for Medicaid benefits, it would only look at their current income and assets. With the implementation of the look-back rule, Medicaid will now look back up to thirty (30) months prior to the Medicaid application, and potentially penalize or disqualify anyone who transferred property out of their possession during that time.

This is important because many people who want to qualify for Medicaid benefits will begin the process of reorganizing their assets to be able to qualify for the program. This includes, for example, potentially transferring their assets into a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (also known simply as a Medicaid trust), which is considered exempt from Medicaid asset limits. If you placed your assets in a Medicaid trust during the look-back period, you could potentially be denied benefits, or have your benefits penalized, until the look-back period ends.

What is So Important About This Delay?

The look-back rule was originally intended to be implemented in October, when the law was meant to go into effect. However, due to COVID-19, the implementation of this new rule has been pushed back to April 1. This means that people have until then to begin reorganizing their assets to be able to qualify for Medicaid community home care services. If you begin before then, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid benefits without fear of being penalized.

If you want to be able to take advantage of Medicaid community home care services, you need to begin planning right now. The longer you wait, the bigger the chance you will be caught in the look-back period, and the greater the chance your benefits will be penalized. Thus, if you think you may be applying for Medicaid benefits at any point in the near future, you should speak to an elder law attorney who can advise you on your course of action and protect your assets and benefits.

The elder law attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will thoroughly analyze your estate and work with you to determine the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, and ensuring your needs are met. For comprehensive estate planning services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office.

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