Should Family Use Specialist or Elder Law Attorney for Medicaid Application?
I am working with a family who is seeking assistance understanding MassHealth eligibility and applying. One member of an unmarried couple has dementia and will be moving to a skilled nursing facility. They have some assets in the name of the partner with dementia and share a house in both their names. They have been advised to work with a MassHealth application specialist. I mentioned consulting with an elder law attorney, and they asked me the difference in support offered by an application specialist versus an elder law attorney in terms of applying for MassHealth. I wasn’t sure the answer and wondered if you could help me answer this question?
The difference really is between administrative assistance and legal guidance. As you know, the process of applying for MassHealth (Medicaid in Massachusetts) can be difficult and application assistants help with collecting the necessary information and submitting it in a form that will be accepted by MassHealth.
However, they do not provide legal or planning advice. You mention “understanding MassHealth eligibility” as well as applying for benefits. While some of the rules are straightforward, many are not. For instance, in your case is the house held in joint name or as tenants in common? This could make the difference as to whether it is subject to estate recovery upon the death of the MassHealth beneficiary. Are their joint assets in banks or investment firms? Their treatment by MassHealth may be different depending on the answer.
While application specialists are no doubt less expensive that attorneys, it’s because what they provide is more limited. It’s important for your clients to consult with an elder law attorney to make sure they get their questions answered and they are proceeding in the best direction for them. Once they have taken that step, they can determine whether it also makes sense to engage the elder law attorney for the application process itself. Qualified elder law attorneys can be found at www.elderlawanswers.com.