Medicaid Eligibility and the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP)

Some estimates indicate that as many as 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some sort of long-term care. McCreary Law Office focuses its Houston-based elder law practice in assisting clients in planning financially for possible long-term care needs, including at-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. Part of this involves coordinating public and private resources to finance the cost of care, helping to structure the client’s financial picture to qualify for needs-based resources.

The average cost of nursing home care in Texas exceeds $6,800 per month. Rules for public assistance can be complex. Knowing how to address issues related to assets and income is essential in working for the greatest care and support possible. This planning can be done proactively or when sudden needs arise.

Texas Medicaid Planning

Contrary to what many people think, Medicare does not pay for nursing home care beyond a limited number of days. Once those days are used, a person is faced with the challenge of paying for this high expense. If you do not have enough savings to cover the cost and you do not have long-term care insurance, the other option is to try to qualify for Medicaid. The rules for qualifying can be complicated, but an elder law attorney can help in that situation.

To qualify for Medicaid for long-term care services, you must meet the requirements as set out by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. These requirements include limits in resources (assets) and income. This means your income has to be below a capped amount and you cannot have assets worth over a specified amount. (If your income is too high, though, a Miller Trust can usually help in that situation.)

Not all of a person’s resources are counted when applying for Medicaid. Some life insurance policies do not count, your home often does not count, and under the right circumstances, your retirement accounts do not count. It is important to work with an attorney before doing anything with your resources so you can receive guidance on how best to qualify. One of the biggest mistakes seen is a person simply giving away assets; these gifts can make you ineligible for Medicaid or activate a penalty period.

Medicaid Estate Recovery Program

One key aspect in elder law is understanding how the state could request repayment for services provided through Medicaid for persons over the age of 55. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program is required under federal law. Careful planning with exceptions and defenses can help protect assets for the loved ones at home. McCreary Law Office uses tools such as trusts and transfer-on-death Deeds to help protect the family’s assets.

Questions About Elder Law Medicaid Planning? Contact McCreary Law Office's Houston Estate Planning Office

If you would like to talk with Jana McCreary about Medicaid planning, contact the Houston office directly or complete the online form, and we can schedule an introductory call.