Protection from Aging and Disability

San Diego is a nice, but not inexpensive, place to retire.  The high cost of long-term care has made planning for these needs a critically important issue for most middle class seniors and their families.  In fact, most seniors will likely require some form of long-term care. Sadly,most of us are unprepared for the significant financial burdens it places on our family’s hard earned savings.  Financial devastation looms large for a family facing ongoing care at a rate of $6,000 to $10,000 or even more per month.

Long-Term Care Options

While some seniors are able to afford private pay care, the cost of long-term care will wipe out savings of all but the wealthiest families in a matter of years.  Those who have planned ahead by purchasing long-term care insurance have a degree of certainty and peace of mind, knowing that they have a lesser need to rely on other sources in the future.  Unfortunately, many can’t afford the high cost of long term care insurance or worse, because of age or medical condition cannot qualify for long term care insurance altogether.  If you do have long-term care insurance, you should be aware of what your policy covers.  Many policies have high deductibles or provide for only a short period of care in facility.  In fact, many who have long-term care insurance still have to resort to Medi-Cal to pay for their care.


Medi-Cal Eligibility

The other option to pay for care is Medi-Cal.  A joint federal-state program, Medi-Cal provides medical assistance including paying for nursing home care for those who need help in the activities of daily life and who otherwise qualify. 

Medi-Cal and its sister programs in other states are the single largest payers of nursing home bills in America.  The Medi-Cal programs roots go back to a time when life expectancies were shorter and when most families were single earner families which made it much easier for children to take care of their parent’s day to day needs.  It originated at a time when medical and nursing home costs were much less.  Medi-Cal’s purpose was  to provide care for those of very limited income and assets.  Medi-Cal’s qualification rules have evolved into an entitlement and allows individuals to arrange their affairs in such a way as to qualify for benefits.  Medi-Cal benefits can include a limited amount of in home care, medical treatment and includes nursing home care.  These benefits are to disabled individuals, and individuals unable to manage certain activities of daily life without help and who meet Medi-Cal’s asset and income tests at the time they apply.  Applicants can also be disqualified for having done certain acts any time up to five years before they apply for Medi-Cal rules.

Medi-Cal is called Medicaid in many states.  Although the core benefits are the same in each state, the program’s eligibility rules vary greatly in each state .  While Medi-Cal eligibility with respect to long-term care was not difficult in the past, there has been a steady drift towards more complex and restrictive rules.  California recently passed laws which will adopt some of the restrictions set out in the Federal, Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.  These changes will result in new more complex eligibility requirements for those wanting to claim their Medi-Cal benefits.    It’s no longer as easy as reviewing one’s bank statements. There are a myriad of regulations involving look-back periods, income caps, transfer penalties and waiting periods to plan around. These harsh changes will not be effective until the regulations putting them in place are completed and approved. Under the law adopting DRA in California these rules may not be retroactive.  We have a rare opportunity to do planning and put in place structures under the older less restrictive laws.  No one knows how long this window will stay open.  Most watchful advanced elder law attorneys believe we will have at least six months before the regulations are completed.

The best time to prepare to qualify for these entitlements is before you need them.  The second best time to plan for these benefits is when you or your parents need care – but have not yet spent or given away your assets.  When families take the initiative, their savings, investment assets, and homes can be protected and preserved.  Only by taking control of their own situation can the financial impact of aging or illness related care be reduced.

We also help Veterans get helpers in their homes with Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Special Pensions.

Veteran’s In Home Care Eligibility  

For most Americans being able to stay in their own homes, while receiving help with the necessities of life is much preferable to nursing home care.  Veterans and their surviving widows who need help in their homes may qualify for a special pension to reimburse them for part or all of these expenses.  Most Veterans who served in wartime do not know that their affairs can be arranged to qualify for this entitlement.  Attorney Weissler is VA Certified to represent veterans.

No one should be required to sacrifice all they have built over their lifetime in order to maintain their dignity and be taken care of when they are old.  Our law firm has the experience and the expertise to help you and yours avoid the financial ruin so often associated with the high cost of in home and residential long-term care.  Contact us today to start the process of understanding the issues surrounding Medi-Cal eligibility and Veteran’s Benefits and to implement the planning and application process.  More details about help available to Veteran's and their Spouses is under the separate Veteran's Benefits page.

We Help Seniors Access In Home Care Benefits

In home care is also available to Seniors through a California program administered on a County by County basis.  In San Diego County the largest home care program is administered by In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).  Seniors who have either arranged their assets to qualify or who have few assets and who have low incomes can qualify for free care.  Seniors with greater assets or income can access home care through IHSS at a very low rate or by paying an income indexed co-pay (share of cost).  For more details on this program, click this link:  San Diego County Home Care Program.

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The Attorneys of the Weissler Law Group assist clients in San Diego, California as well as in: Coronado, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Escondido, National City, Spring Valley, and Chula Vista.

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