Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely big factor within the elder law community. This disease strikes a very significant percentage of elders, and it is actually the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
If you have a loved one who is aging, or if you are looking ahead toward your elder years in your own right, you may want to explore the resources that are offered by the the Southern California Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
These people do excellent work, and you can obtain a great deal of information if you visit their page. They are are also looking for volunteers, so you can reach out if you would like to spend some time doing something positive for the community.
Alzheimer’s and Long-Term Care
Medi-Cal is a need-based government health insurance program. If you have never been financially needy throughout your life, you may feel as though Medi-Cal will never be relevant to you.
Most senior citizens will in fact be qualified for Medicare coverage. Medicare is also a government health insurance program, but it is not based on financial need.
You become eligible for Medicare through the accrual of retirement credits. When you are working, you can accumulate as many as four retirement credits per year, and most people do, because the requirements are modest. If you have at least 40 retirement credits, you will be eligible for Medicare coverage when you reach the age of 65.
Why would Medi-Cal be relevant to people who are going to qualify for Medicare? This is a profound question.
Medi-Cal is important for many seniors because Medicare will not pay for long-term custodial care. This is the type of care that you would receive in a nursing home or assisted living community.
Long-term care is very expensive. We practice law in Los Angeles. In our area, it is not uncommon for a person to pay over $100,000 a year for a private room in a nursing home.
If you can qualify, Medi-Cal will pay for long-term care. This is why a significant percentage of California elders seek Medi-Cal coverage late in their lives.
Clearly, a significant percentage of people who have contracted Alzheimer’s disease are going to require nursing home care. Since the disease strikes around 45 percent of people who are 85 years of age and older, Alzheimer’s disease alone makes nursing home asset protection a must for responsible people who are looking ahead toward their senior years.
There are asset and income limits that you must stay within if you want to qualify for Medi-Cal. For an individual, the asset limit is $2000, but there are some things that you own that do not count.
Non-countable assets would include your home, and for the present time, there is no equity limit in California, though there are equity limits in other states. Your wedding and engagement rings and heirloom jewelry, your household goods, one vehicle, and your personal effects are not countable assets.
If you are applying for Medi-Cal to pay for long-term care while your spouse is still capable of independent living, your spouse is referred to as the community spouse. Under Medi-Cal regulations, the community spouse has certain rights.
The healthy spouse can keep half of the countable community resources up to a certain limit. This is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. In the state of California, the maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance is $119,220 in 2016, and this is also the minimum.
Let’s explain the minimum allowance through a hypothetical example. If the shared assets totaled $100,000, half of that would be $50,000. However, because of the minimum allowance, the healthy spouse could keep all of the $100,000, because that figure is less than the minimum allowance of $119,220.
Medi-Cal requires the institutionalized spouse to contribute most of his or her income toward the long-term care costs. However, this requirement would be waived if the community spouse is depending on all or some of this income.
If financial need exists, the healthy spouse is entitled to a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. This allows the community spouse to continue to receive income that is generated by the institutionalized spouse, even if it would have otherwise gone toward the cost of care.
The Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance in the state of California in 2016 is $2981.
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