Elder Law Videos

Learn more about common Elder Law, long-term care and asset protection issues.

Why Do I Need Medicaid?

John Bartlett answers the question: Why Do I Need Medicaid?

There are two reasons you may need Medicaid: financial support and to avoid Pennsylvania's Filial Support Law.


Hi, I’m John Bartlett and I’m here to help with your Elder Law, long-term care and asset protection questions. The first question I’m going to answer today is “why do I need Medicaid?”

There are really two reasons a person needs Medicaid. The first is that Medicaid is the only program that provides public assistance to pay for one’s long-term care needs. Once a person becomes both financially and medically eligible for Medicaid, the Department of Human Services will help supplement payments, on a monthly basis, for that person’s care.

How it works is that person’s income is first paid to the nursing home. The Department of Human Services will supplement that payment for the remaining amount of the care. Since the cost of care in Pennsylvania is $11,000 per month for the average nursing home [private room], it could be a substantial payment from the Department of Human Services.

The second reason a person needs Medicaid is to avoid Pennsylvania’s Filial Support Law. This law states that if a person is unable to pay for their care or residency at a nursing home in Pennsylvania, the nursing home can sue the immediate family of the resident for reimbursement. That means if Mom is in the nursing home and isn’t paying, her son, daughter, spouse or even parent could be on the hook for that payment.

Thank you for viewing this video, and I hope this information was helpful. You can leave comments below, or reach out to Knox Law at (814) 459-2800 or on the internet at kmgslaw.com. Please contact us so we can schedule a free consultation.

How Do I Qualify for Medicaid?

John Bartlett answers the question: How Do I Qualify For Medicaid?

Medicaid qualification occurs when a person is eligible in two distinct ways: financially and medically.

Hi, I’m John Bartlett and I’m here to answer your questions about Elder Law, long-term care planning and asset protection. The question we have today is “how do I qualify for Medicaid?”

Medicaid qualification occurs when a person is eligible in two distinct ways. The first way is financially eligible. Financial eligibility for Medicaid often includes a spend-down or transfer of assets. But the essence is, a person is allowed only $2,400 or, if their income is low enough, $8,000 to remain in their name.

The second requirement for Medicaid is to be medically eligible. Medical eligibility happens when a person is declared to need skilled nursing care. The doctor or GECAC [Greater Erie Community Action Committee, Erie County’s council on aging] will examine a patient and issue an MA-51, which determines the level of care a person needs. If they are determined to need skilled nursing care, they can do so either at home, under the Medicaid waiver program (under certain restrictions), or in a nursing home. However, the restrictions on that [at-home] program are tighter, since you are receiving the services in the comfort of your own home rather than at a facility devoted to skilled nursing care.

Once a person is under the asset limit and has that determination of needing skilled nursing care, that person will submit an application to Medicaid and hopefully be approved.

Thank you for viewing this video, and I hope this information was helpful. You can leave comments below, or reach out to Knox Law at (814) 459-2800 or on the internet at kmgslaw.com. Please contact us so we can schedule a free consultation.

What is the 5-year look-back period for Medicaid?

John Bartlett answers the question: What is the 5-year look-back period for Medicaid?

The Department of Health & Human Services wants to make sure a person is not giving away assets strictly to qualify for the program. They will look at 5 years or 60 months of the person’s financial history.

Hi, I’m John Bartlett and I’m here to answer your Elder Law, long-term care and asset protection questions. Today we are going to discuss the 5 year look-back period for Medicaid eligibility.

The 5 year look-back period is something that everybody has heard about, but few people really understand. Medicaid is based on medical and financial eligibility. They [Department of Health & Human Services] want to make sure a person is not giving away assets strictly to qualify for the program.

To do so, they will look at 5 years or 60 months of the person’s financial history. That means when you send in an application for Medicaid, you have to include bank statements for the last 5 years showing every transaction you had and showing where those transactions went. If for some reason the County Assistance Officer sees a transaction and doesn’t know what it is for, they are going to immediately presume that it was done to qualify for Medicaid. Any transfers that total over $500 in a month will be looked at, including any gifts given to family members, charities, churches or anywhere else.

Many people believe that the annual exclusion is allowed, despite wanting to qualify for Medicaid: that is false. The annual exclusion, which says that you can give $15,000 to any person in a given year without filing a gift tax return, is still going to count against your Medicaid eligibility.

Any money given away in the last 5 years before the Medicaid application, that you did not receive market value or services for, will be considered to be gifted away strictly to qualify for Medicaid. The full amount of those gifts create what’s called an ineligibility period. That period is determined by taking that amount of gifts given away and dividing it by the daily rate for a nursing home bed. That rate in 2021 [in Pennsylvania] is just over $355 per day.

Thank you for viewing this video, and I hope this information was helpful. You can leave comments below, or reach out to Knox Law at (814) 459-2800 or on the internet at kmgslaw.com. Please contact us so we can schedule a free consultation.

Should I Transfer My Home to My Children?

John Bartlett answers the question: Should I transfer my home to my children?

When a person is looking to qualify for Medicaid, they often believe that transferring their home to their children is a viable strategy to become qualified. That’s not exactly true.

Hi, I’m John Bartlett and I’m here to answer your questions about Elder Law, long-term care and asset protection. Today we are going to answer the question: should I transfer my home to my children?

When a person is looking to qualify for Medicaid, they often believe that transferring their home to their children is a viable strategy to become qualified. That’s not exactly true.

Medicaid allows certain assets to be excluded from consideration when qualifying. One of those assets is a person’s primary residence, up to a value of $603,000. Oftentimes, it makes more sense for a person to keep the home in their own name, as it is excluded for Medicaid and avoids problems of putting a child on the deed.

There are a couple of reasons you don’t want to add your child’s name to your deed of your primary residence. The first reason is that you are giving away value in that home without receiving fair market value in return. Therefore, for Medicaid purposes, that is going to be considered a gift to your child. That will create an ineligibility period that we’ve talked about previously, and affect your payment for long-term care.

The second reason you don’t want to add your child to the deed of your primary residence is because it exposes that residence’s value to the claims and liability of not only yourself, but also of your child. If that child is in a high-risk profession such as a lawyer or doctor, is going through a divorce, or causes an accident that harms somebody else or somebody else’s property, the home can be exposed to any liability or repayment.

The third reason you don’t want to add your children to your deed is in regards to the cost basis that you have on that property. If you purchased a home 50 years ago for $10,000, that home is going to be worth much more today than it was then. However, your cost basis now will be $10,000 even if it is worth $200,000 today. If you sell that home for its current value, you are responsible for the tax, which is called capital gains, of your basis of $10,000 and the sale price of $200,000.

When you gift a piece of property or stock that has a cost basis, that cost basis follows the gift. Therefore, if you gift $5,000 of your cost basis (or half the interest of the property) to a child, that child is going to receive that same cost basis. They will not get a step-up in value at your death, because you no longer own it. The $5,000 value you had on the property will now jump to $100,000, which is half the value of the property currently. However, the child’s share will still be at a cost basis of $5,000.

Thank you for viewing this video, and I hope this information was helpful. You can leave comments below, or reach out to Knox Law at (814) 459-2800 or on the internet at kmgslaw.com. Please contact us so we can schedule a free consultation.