What is the Adult Foster Care (also called Adult Family Care) Program?
Adult Foster Care (also called Adult Family Care) is a program that enables elders who cannot live alone safely to have a live-in caregiver. The services to the elder also include meal preparation, assistance with personal care and medication, shopping, laundry, housekeeping, transportation to medical appointment and social visits, and maintaining a clean and safe living space.
The live-in caregiver receives a non-taxable stipend of up to $18,000 per year. The amount of the stipend depends on the number of activities of daily living with which the elder requires assistance, i.e., bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
An elder’s spouse, parent and legally responsible relatives are ineligible to be paid as a live-in caregiver. However, what is also unique about the Adult Foster Care program is that the elder’s child can be a paid caregiver.
The Adult Foster Care agency provides periodic visits by social workers and registered nurses to supervise and evaluate and provide support and training to the live-in caregiver. The live-in caregiver is entitled to a maximum of 14 days off per year during which the Adult Foster Care agency provides respite.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Adult Foster Care Program?
The elder must be approved for Adult Foster Care by a physician and the local Aging Services Access Point (ASAP).
The elder must be enrolled in MassHealth (or pay privately). An unmarried elder can qualify for MassHealth 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. Depending on the amount of the elder's income, the elder also may have to meet a deductible every six months.
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, Norwood, MA, Norton, 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.