While it may seem like a good idea that things like Medicaid applications and Veterans benefit apps are accessible and do-it-yourself, as with many things relating to government, it’s really not that simple. There are many things that can go wrong when people apply for Medicaid without the help of an experienced guide.
Here are six reasons you should not apply for Medicaid without the help of an experienced elder law attorney:
1. You’ll lose all your hard-earned money.
Typically, when someone goes into a nursing home, the admissions people or case workers at the home tell people, “Spend all your money and then let us know when you’re ready to apply for Medicaid.” The best solution they can offer families is to “spend down” every dime of their hard-earned money on the astronomical price of nursing care! Planning with an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with the ins and outs of Medicaid, oftentimes results in protecting 50% of the life savings so it can be used for later expenses or as a legacy for your family.
2. You’ll go crazy with the stress of the complex and bureaucratic process.
If you’ve been an adult for any amount of time then you know how difficult it can be to deal with government agencies. We have endless stories of families who get caught up in the paperwork, losing money and time with their aging loved ones while they “fight” the process trying to qualify and apply for help through Medicaid. (The picture above is three Medicaid applications before we sent them off for approval. It’s A LOT of paperwork!)
3. You (or your loved one) will be left with $1 a day to live on.
Without proper Medicaid planning, all your funds will have to be “spent down” in order to allow the Medicaid benefits to begin. This basically means that your family will have to spend their own money if you need something outside of the included costs of the nursing home. Learn more about that when you subscribe to our Medicaid Planning e-course.
4. You may not qualify for benefits because of a simple error on the Medicaid application.
Again, we have a lot of stories about families who filled something out wrong, didn’t get something in on time or didn’t phrase something just right. We also have stories about the caseworkers themselves making mistakes that disqualified the families. These mistakes are just too costly.
5. Delays in the application could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
People who apply for Medicaid benefits on their own can take longer to jump through all the hoops which can delay the start of money to pay for care. On average, it takes us 6 to 8 weeks to get a Medicaid application filed, but it can take a year or longer to get approved. That timeline can be even longer when people try to do it on their own. We have 2.5 team members who are dedicated to this process alone, and they are quite skilled at what they do. (Read about our Elder Care Advisor, Melissa Coulter.)
6. You won’t have anyone to turn to for help.
Filling out a Medicaid application is unlike anything you’ve ever done before and much more difficult than most people imagine. You don’t have to do it alone. Relying on the knowledge and expertise of a trustworthy elder law attorney who has been down this road hundreds of times before is invaluable. We know this because we have people come to us all the time who have tried to do a Medicaid application on their own and failed. We absolutely hate to see this. We also hear from grateful clients on a regular basis who are so glad they turned to us for help. (See a testimonial like this below.)
Medicaid Planning is Some of the Best Money You’ll Ever Spend
The cost of an elder law attorney who helps you plan and apply for Medicaid is more than offset by what you save in out-of-pocket nursing home costs. Without an attorney, all of your family’s money will inevitably go to the nursing home. With the help of an elder law attorney, even after legal fees, you’ll be left with more money than if you had done the application on your own. If the money is going to disappear anyway, why not use that money to pay an attorney who will guide your family through the stressful benefits process as quickly as possible, maximizing the money available to pay for care?
With good planning, you are more proactive; therefore you get much better results. (It’s a lot like using an accountant to make sure you don’t pay too many taxes.) Working with an elder law attorney insures that you get the best possible result instead of the worst possible result. And the worst possible result is what most people believe they HAVE TO DO when it comes to paying for nursing care — spend all their money until it’s gone. The best possible result means pursuing all the benefits that are legally available (like taking all the possible tax deductions when working on your taxes), and protecting your hard-earned money so it’s available to you and your family to use later on.
Here’s what one of our clients had to say about the process after it was done:
“I want to thank you again for all your hard work in helping my family. It has meant so much to have someone to answer questions, explain things and especially hold my hand through this amazing journey. I had moments where I wondered, ‘What am I doing spending [so much] of my parent’s money?’ Then I would wonder if we were ever going to get everything transferred, completed and filed. [When] I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I knew in my heart we had made the right decision. The professionalism shown by Edwards Group, which includes [Melissa] and Dave, has far exceeded my expectation. On behalf of my family, thank you again for all the phone calls, emails, texts, and especially the support. You have been amazing.” DC from Glendale, MO
If you’d like to continue learning more about Medicaid Planning and how an experienced elder law attorney can help make the process of applying for Medicaid faster and less stressful, be sure to check out our FREE Medicaid Planning e-course. You’ll receive several emails in succession telling you about the Medicaid application process while also giving you tangible steps you can take to begin the process. If your family is in a nursing home crisis situation, please call us right away at 217-726-9200. Our staff will be happy to assist you and answer your questions.