Question of the Day on “My mother just moved into an assisted living community in Illinois. We were told that once all her assets have been depleted that they will start taking her social security. They said that she would never be kicked out and that Medicaid will kick in. How do we know if Medicaid will approve her? And what if they don't? They are really pushing for us to sell her house ASAP! I'm just so scared that once they've sucked up all her assets that somehow she might have to leave. Is there a way Medicaid will pay without selling her house?”

Answer:  Wow, I would be worried also, without any assurances in writing.  Please understand that there are a number of issues in your question, all rolled into one.  First, when your mother entered the assisted living facility, she or, perhaps a family member acting on her behalf, probably signed a contract.  It is important to know what provisions are contained in the contract to see if, in fact, what you have been told verbally is in the written agreement.  Second, you said your mother moved into assisted living.  However, unless it is a continung care community or one of the few supportive living facilities in Illinois that take Medicaid, most assisted living facilities do not accept Medicaid, so more information is needed. Third, you don’t mention how your mother is paying for the assisted living facility and what other assets she may have, so it’s difficult to asses how soon she may need assistance paying for care.  The house presents a trickier issue.  Is there a possibility your mother intends to return to her home?  If so, the home may not be considered an available asset for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid.  The home may also be exempt if a “qualifying family member” is living in the home.  She may be allowed to transfer the home to a qualifying family member.  However, if she does not intend to return home, if there is no qualifying family member living in the home, and the home is sold, there may be planning strategies that could preserve some of the funds for her use, rather than to spend them all down before qualifying.  Bottom, line, it is not a simple question, and you would be well served by seeking the advice of an experienced elder law attorney in your area who could sort out all the issues and recommend planning strategies rather than rely on verbal assurances of the facility representative.

Teresa Nuccio, Esq.
Teresa Nuccio & Associates, P.C.
Park Ridge, Illinois  60068
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Illinois chapter

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