|and inaction. We then step in and guide them through the
process of getting him into the right place, that they can afford, and everybody is going
to be safe.
Roberta (fictional name) contacted me about her parents, a
couple in their 70s living in Brooklyn, after hearing about me through a friend who is a
physical therapist. She presented her circumstances as being concerned about
both of my parents, but its not too serious. In fact, her mother has an
arthritis condition resulting in her having difficulty getting around and her father has
diabetes thats flared up. She wanted me to evaluate their Elder Plan insurance
as shes not sure what it covers.
Upon my arrival, the wife did most of the talking. The
husband seemed coherent and friendly but for whatever reason he wasnt talking a lot.
Initially, there was very little that seemed to need to be done, but she
indicated that she is on Medicaid already. She gets two days a week of housekeeping,
but now she wants more help because he needs care and its hard for her to provide
it. I went into detail about examining the situation and quickly determined that, in
fact, he would also be eligible for Medicaid.
Why didnt they apply for him right from the
beginning when they applied for her? The wife replied, Well because then they
would count his income also and we didnt want to have to deal with that
problem. I said I know how to deal with that problem. I can explain
what that means. Basically if youre a couple and one of you wants Medicaid,
you can apply and sign a form called Spousal Refusal, where Medicaid says as long as you
have this form, then they dont count the income or the assets of the spouse and you
can get all the Medicaid benefits you want. You can transfer everything to your
spouse in cases where you dont even want to transfer it to your children.
There are other advantages for doing that, too as we will see in what happened here
because very shortly thereafter, Roberta tells me, Steve theres a crisis.
father needs to go to the hospital. His
diabetes got in his toe, and theyre going to amputate the toe. Its really bad. It was much worse than that. He went in and they said they have to amputate the
leg. And this is all very sudden and
unanticipated. So everybody is flipping out,
Roberta, her brother and her brothers wife. Roberta
is now calling me frantically. What are we
going to do?
Roberta not only was in a panic about her father and his
condition, but her mind was racing ahead, fearing the worst. She was anticipating that her
mother too, had increasing needs, and she was in a panic about that also, as well as their
limited finances. Their only asset was the coop that they lived in. By this point we had already set up a meeting with
an elder law attorney to review how they would deal with the co-op and how that impacted
It soon seemed likely that he would not be able to come home
because hes very sick and needs a lot of care. That he would need a nursing home. They didnt have a problem hearing that, but
it just panicked them about how its all going to be paid for, while preserving the
co-op. Roberta was really set on the idea that her mother shouldnt stay in the coop
anymore, that she needed to be around people and go to an assisted living facility. We think shes so totally isolated where
she is. I told them about an assisted living facility that Medicaid pays for, and
they quickly went to see it and with her mothers wholehearted agreement, set about
for her to move in there.
We then have this conference call with the lawyer who tells them
what they can do in view of the crisis. While
its kind of complicated, there actually was a way to preserve everything and have
them both get Medicaid, have his nursing home stay covered by Medicaid and have them keep
the co-op. The point is that this all happened
because of my work in conjunction with the lawyer.
I played a key role in helping the lawyer do what she needed to
do because Roberta and her family were in such a state of anxiety that they regularly
called me to review what the plan was and to reassure them that everything was going to
work out. I could take the time to clarify each aspect of the plan in a way that the
lawyer could not.
Well, their father did die a few weeks later, which in some ways
was a relief to the family because he was suffering. The mother did move into the assisted
living, and the lawyer was working on preserving the proceeds on the sale of the coop
without jeopardizing her Medicaid.
I worked in several areas, but because the lawyer was
needed to execute many of the needed actions, my work with her was very important as I was
able to help the family overcome their anxiety so they could focus the meeting on what
could be accomplished for their father and their mother that they would essentially
get everything they wanted, despite their fears that this was not going to be possible.
Before I spoke with them, they kept thinking that this was a disaster because they
were going to lose everything and that both parents were to be out of luck and not where
they wanted to be. It was really a terrible situation emotionally, but from the
financial prospective, the crisis was not there. Had I not clarified the issues for
the lawyer, it would have taken her much more time to put it all together because the
familys anxiety was so high that they were bouncing all over the place. It
would have been very confusing for the lawyer to try and figure out what the real