There are numerous assistance programs that fall under the term “Medicaid”. Florida Elder Law Attorneys are often called upon to assist individuals and their families with Florida Medicaid programs for those desiring and needing long term care in nursing home facilities, assisted living facilities, or in their own homes.

To be eligible for Florida’s Medicaid programs, an individual must meet basic requirements. (Some Medicaid programs may have exceptions or additional criteria.) These basic requirements are:

• Be a resident of Florida
• Be 65 or older; if under 65, must be disabled or blind
• Be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen; and proof of identity
• Have a Social Security Number
• Be medically needy (must meet the level of care required for the particular program)
• Must apply for any other benefits for which the applicant may be eligible such as veteran’s benefits and disability benefits
• Give the State of Florida the right to collect private insurance benefits
• Meet the program’s income test
• Meet the programs’ asset test

Elder Law Attorneys assist their clients and advocate on their behalf to ensure that all requirements are met prior to applying for benefits. It is important to seek out the assistance of an Elder Law attorney before transferring any assets. The asset test is extremely technical; if transfers are not done timely and properly, the transfer can actually defeat Medicaid eligibility for a long period of time.

Additionally, Elder Law Attorneys can assist clients who have excess income or assist those seeking benefits but need some of their income to be paid to their healthy spouse. Elder Law Attorneys can also facilitate the process of satisfying the level of care requirement necessary for Medicaid qualification.

Medicaid planning is a highly technical area of practice. Elder Law Attorneys rely on the Social Security Act, the Federal Code and Regulations, the Florida Statutes and Code, case law, and many other sources of knowledge and are continually updating their legal education. The attorney members of the Florida Academy of Elder Law Attorneys are well qualified to assist clients seeking information and assistance in Medicaid planning and eligibility.

Authored by Debra Simms
Reviewed by Carolyn Landon