Easton MA Elder Law Attorney von Weiss: At-Home Care Programs Part 2

By
Real Estate Attorney with an Expertise in Estate Planning and Elder Law

The author Brigitte von Weiss of VON WEISS LAW OFFICE is an Easton MA estate planning and elder law attorney.  

Website:  vonweisslaw.com

What is the Home and Community Based Frail Elder Waiver (Waiver) Program?   

Elders who are clinically in need of nursing home care and meet the asset limits detailed below qualify for the Home and Community Based Frail Elder Waiver (Waiver) Program.  

 

The Waiver program is funded by MassHealth and provides the following services: skilled nursing, home health aide, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, grocery shopping, meal delivery, and the wander response system.   

          What are the income and asset rules for Waiver Program? 

Under the Waiver program, there is no income limit.  However, if the elder’s gross monthly income exceeds the threshold of 300% of the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit ($2,163 as of 2014), he or she will be eligible for in-home services after meeting a deductible every six months. In other words, if an elder has gross monthly income of $2,163 or less in 2014, he or she gets to keep all of his or her income.  In contrast, if the elder's gross monthly income is over $2,163 in 2014, some of his or her income must be used to pay for in-home services.

 

An unmarried elder can qualify for the Waiver program if he or she has $2,000 or less of countable assets.   There is a long list of noncountable assets.  Most notable, the home is noncountable as long as the equity value does not exceed $750,000.  The asset limit for a couple is $3,000.  However, an advantage of the Waiver program is that the assets belonging to the healthy spouse will not count toward the asset limit.  Under MassHealth regulations, transfers between spouses do not affect eligibility.  As a result, a commonly-used strategy for an unhealthy married elder is to transfer assets to his or her healthy spouse and thereby qualify for the Waiver program.  

 

What is the Community Choices (Choices) Program? 

 

For the Community Choices (Choices) Program, the elder must not only be clinically in need of nursing home care, but also must be at imminent risk of entering a facility if he or she does not receive these services at home.  The Choices program will provide more hours of service to an elder than the Home and Community Based Frail Elder Waiver (Waiver) Program described above.  

 

In order to receive services under the Choices program, an elder must be enrolled in or eligible for the Waiver program.

 

How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help?

 

There is nothing more important than avoiding nursing home care (not always possible, but if possible).  Often the key to avoiding nursing home placement is in-home care.  Elder law attorneys are an important resource as they know the ins and outs of the various programs available to assist elders in covering the cost of in-home care.   

 

Elder law attorneys often assist elders in applying for in-home care programs.  Notwithstanding asset limits of the various in-home care programs, there typically are methods for attaining eligibility even if the elder exceeds the limit. 

 

Elders also need to be mindful of "estate recovery" as the Division of Medical Assistance is entitled to recover against the probate estate of any individual for whom MassHealth benefits were paid when he or she was age 55 or over.  In order to do so, the agency must file a timely claim against the estate.   Typically, there is no probate estate when an elder is on MassHealth as the asset limit is $2,000.  However, many elders on MassHealth own a home as the home is noncountable as long as the equity value does not exceed $750,000.  

 

There are steps that can be taken to protect the home from an estate recovery claim.  An elder law attorney can assist by providing legal guidance regarding the home and MassHealth estate recovery.

 

Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice as this is a complicated area of the law.

The author Brigitte von Weiss of VON WEISS LAW OFFICE is an estate planning lawyer and elder law attorney serving clients in Easton, MA, as well as nearby towns and cities, including Abington, MA, Attleboro, MA, Avon, MA, Bridgewater, MA, Brockton, MA, Canton, MA, East Bridgewater, MA, Foxboro, MA, Mansfield, MA, North Attleboro, MA, Norton, MA, Norwood, MA, Plainville, MA, Randolph, MA, Raynham, MA, Rehoboth, MA, Rockland, MA, Sharon, MA, Stoughton, MA, Walpole, MA, West Bridgewater, MA, and Whitman, MA.  

Brigitte, a graduate of Boston College School of Nursing and an honors graduate of Loyola University of Chicago Law School, stands out from other elder law and estate planning attorneys in that she worked as a registered nurse for four years and earned a Master of Science in Taxation with high distinction from Bentley College.  This unique combination of legal, nursing and taxation backgrounds enables Brigitte to provide outstanding legal guidance to her clients in their time of need.  Call (508) 238-3005 for a free phone conversation with Brigitte to learn if she can help.  You also may reach her through her website at www.vonweisslaw.com.   

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC)   

Bristol County Family and Probate Court   

Plymouth County Family and Probate Court   

Norfolk County Family and Probate Court 

Alzheimer's Association

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Massachusetts Chapter of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Massachusetts Area Agency's on Aging (AAA's)
  and Aging Service Access Points (ASAP's)

MassHealth form

Bristol Elder Services

Old Colony Elder Services

Hessco Elder Services  

Easton MA 

Easton MA Council on Aging   

Town of Easton MA website  

Easton MA Patch   

Easton MA Journal   

Easton MA Historical Society  

Children's Museum Easton MA 

Easton MA Garden Club 

HUGS II Easton MA 

My Brother's Keepers Assistance Easton MA 

Easton MA Community Access Television 

House of Possibilities Easton MA 

ESTATE PLANNING  

AARP estate planning article  

Forbes magazine estate planning article  

Kiplinger magazine estate planning article  

USA newspaper estate planning article   

American Bar Association's Estate Planning FAQ's  

New York Times article on estate planning  

US News article on estate planning  

Fox Business article on estate planning  

Los Angeles Times article on estate planning 

COA'S

Abington MA Council on Aging  

Attleboro MA Council On Aging 

Avon MA Council on Aging  

Bridgewater MA Office on Elder Affairs  

Brockton MA Council on Aging  

Canton MA Council on Aging  

East Bridgewater MA Council on Aging  

Easton MA Council on Aging  

Foxboro MA Council on Aging 

Mansfield MA Council on Aging  

Norton MA Council on Aging  

North Attleboro MA Council On Aging 

Norwood MA Senior Center 

Plainville MA Council On Aging 

Randolph MA Council on Aging  

Raynham MA Council on Aging  

Rehoboth MA Council on Aging  

Rockland MA Council on Aging  

Sharon MA Council on Aging  

Stoughton MA Council on Aging  

Walpole MA Council On Aging 

West Bridgewater MA Council on Aging  

Whitman MA Council on Aging  

 

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