Applying for Medicaid in the Era of COVID-19
People suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other physically debilitating conditions often face the difficult choice of entering a long-term care facility. Not only is this decision heart-wrenching, it can also be financially challenging because of the exorbitant costs of nursing home care.
Medicaid long-term care benefits are made available to nursing home residents who can show that they need help. To the extent that “need” is established by verifying one’s assets and income, Medicaid has several criteria in place, including:
• Maximum asset limit in 2020 (Single): $2000
• Maximum asset limit in 2020 (Couple): $130640
• Maximum Income for Resident: $2349/month
• Five Year Lookback Period: With limited exceptions, assets given away within the five years preceding a Medicaid application will be penalized.
Federal law allows state Medicaid agencies to request up to five years’ worth of financial records when assessing an applicant’s eligibility. Of course, obtaining records going back five years is very difficult, so Georgia’s Medicaid agency generally asks applicants who reside in a nursing home to submit three months’ worth of records. While this is normally not an insurmountable task, things have gotten far more complicated due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Following the declaration of a National Emergency on March 13, 2020, Georgia’s Medicaid agency elected to issue a new policy governing verification required at the time of application. Thus, an applicant may now apply for Medicaid without providing precise written verification of every asset and all income. Rather, if anything is missing, the new policy directs caseworkers to accept the applicant’s verbal attestation that the document in question is temporarily unavailable. Whereas applications with missing verification will normally be denied, such applications should now be approved based on verbal attestation. It is likely that applicants who are approved based on this new policy will have to go back and generate the missing documents once the pandemic has ended. By the same token, this relaxed verification policy is considered temporary such that it will be revoked once the pandemic has ended.
While the Medicaid application process has been streamlined to an extent in Georgia, many find the process to be overwhelming and terribly time-consuming. If you have questions about the process or desire assistance with filing an application, please do not hesitate to call our office.