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Can I afford to Grow Old?

Question: I have been saving up for retirement, but will it be enough if either my spouse or I get sick? My parents seem to be doing fine with money, but my mom was recently diagnosed with dementia, will my dad be able to afford her care? Does the government offer any programs to help us as we age?

Answer: In this current world of uncertainty, many individuals are facing real concerns regarding whether they or their parents will outlive their money. Cost of long-term care in the U.S. has skyrocketed, with the in-home care costing between $18-$21 an hour for an aide, assisted living facilities costing an average of $3,861 a month (for memory care facilities, the cost can be upwards of $6,500 a month, and the average cost of a nursing home being $8,000-11,000.) As such, seniors are looking to government programs, such as Medicaid and Veteran Administration Aid and Attendance, to assist with paying for care, yet many do not financially qualify for the programs. With Medicaid requirements being as low as $2,000 in assets for an individual to qualify and VA Aid and Attendance Enhanced Pension Benefit which is available to certain wartime veterans, having eligibility criteria that are a very complex, planning with an experience Board Certified Elder Law Attorney is a necessity. Once an individual is eligible to receive benefits from VA and/or Medicaid, private money saved can be used for a healthy spouse, or to better one’s care. But do you need to sell your home to qualify? The simple answer is almost always, no. Homesteads are excluded from Medicaid’s calculation of assets one has, and in many cases, an individual can own his or her own home until death and still being able to transfer the home to beneficiaries. Getting more information to learn what to do to properly plan is important. You saved your money, now you should protect it from the overwhelming cost of long term care.

Heidi F. Friedman of Becker & Poliakoff is Board Certified Elder Law attorney. She has extensive experience in elder law, Medicaid programs, Veteran’s Administration programs and special needs planning by working and being closely associated with some of the most knowledgeable Florida professionals in the field. Please feel free to contact her at hfriedman@bplegal.com.

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