When individuals with disabled children consider how to pay for a potential nursing home stay for themselves, they not only have to worry about their own financial situation, but their disabled child(ren)’s as well.

Due to the high cost of nursing home care, Medicaid nursing home coverage may be the best option for most people. However, since Medicaid is a needs-based program, individuals must fall below fairly strict financial limits to qualify. While planning well in advance is best, there are planning techniques that will allow people to qualify, even on relatively short notice, for Medicaid nursing home coverage while still protecting significant assets.

Before applying for Medicaid, individuals should meet with an experienced elder law attorney. Specific Medicaid rules and regulations can vary significantly from state to state. In Missouri, the state Medicaid program is known as MO HealthNet. For those individuals contemplating a Medicaid application who also have disabled child(ren) they should make sure the lawyer is experienced in both elder law and disability law since Medicaid planning actions can affect both the individual’s Medicaid eligibility and their child’s benefit eligibility.

One area of flexibility in planning for individuals with disabled children is that transfers to disabled children are not subject to penalties when applying for Medicaid. As a safeguard to prevent fraud, Medicaid has a five year look back period where any below market transfers are penalized (a period where Medicaid will not pay benefits) at the time of application. Non-penalized transfers can allow for an individual to become Medicaid eligible faster and avoid any period of nonpayment/penalty.

But, while a transfer to a disabled child can help an individual’s ability to qualify for Medicaid nursing home coverage, the transfer can still negatively affect the child’s eligibility for their benefits.

The dual concerns of the individual’s Medicaid eligibility and the child’s benefit eligibility are why it is important individuals work with a local attorney experienced in both elder and disability law before taking any planning actions. An experienced attorney in elder and disability law can work with a client to create a plan that works toward an individual’s Medicaid eligibility, maintains a disabled child’s benefit eligibility, minimizes out-of-pocket expenses, and preserves an individual’s assets as much as possible.

To discuss how to plan for your own potential nursing home stay while maintaining your child’s disability benefits, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.