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Avoiding "Accidental" Gifts for Medicaid Eligibility

By now, most people know that when applying for Medicaid, the applicant must disclose any gifts made during the five (5) years prior to application. What they often do not know is that many seemingly innocent transfers may be treated as penalized gifts, causing disruption to Medicaid eligibility.

When the County Assistance Office reviews a Medicaid application, they review monthly bank account statements for the past five (5) years, and unexplained checks made payable to children, checks for cash, or ATM withdrawals may very well be considered gifts. Even regular church donations can be mistakenly categorized as gifts. Simply put, the person reviewing those bank statements can't tell whether they are gifts or legitimate transactions. The presumption will be that they are penalized gifts. Persons paying bills in cash or making large monthly withdrawals from ATMs are especially hurt by this practice. That is why it is especially important for aging clients and families to consider changing the way they engage in their monthly finances.

We encourage clients to consider using debit and credit cards to pay regular expenses in order to avoid this problematic result. If you are a loved one anticipate future nursing home admission, be thoughtful about how your monthly bank statements might appear to an independent third party reviewer.

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