The cost of nursing home care is prohibitively expensive in Delaware and around the country. However, many people will reach a point where they can no longer safely live on their own and will need to move into nursing facilities. Since the average monthly cost of a stay in a nursing home is more than $7,700, most seniors cannot afford it. Senior citizens might need to qualify for Medicaid to afford to move into nursing homes. To qualify, their incomes and assets must be below a very limited amount. Seniors might try to give away some of their assets so that they can qualify for Medicaid, but they must pay attention to the Medicaid lookback period.
What is the lookback period for Medicaid?
To make sure seniors do not simply give away their assets to qualify for Medicaid, the state has a five-year lookback period. All of an individual’s financial transactions will be examined during the 60 months prior to the date he or she applied for Medicaid for long-term care. Any violations of the lookback period will be penalized by periods of ineligibility. For example, if you gave away money or real property during the lookback period, you will be deemed to be ineligible for a number of months until the value of what you gave away is reached.
One thing people can do as they grow older is to conduct Medicaid planning. This allows people to plan ahead for when they might need nursing home care and protect their assets. Through Medicaid asset protection, people might change their assets into noncountable assets by placing them in irrevocable trusts. However, this must be done well in advance of when they might need nursing home care so that they do not violate the lookback period.