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Assistance Programs for the Disabled and Aged

Assistance Programs for the Disabled and Aged

An elder law attorney serves as an excellent guide for clients over 65 who may need government assistance programs for their care. Often this means determining Medicaid eligibility. However, there are others who are also in need of the expertise elder law attorneys bring to the table. Over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12% of the total population. Of course, those in assisted and nursing care are among this number, but more than 50% of disabled Americans are in their working years from 18-64 years old. Over 90% of those are disabled by an illness, not an accident. When its a diagnosis of cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, ALS, or one of the many cognitive brain disorders, some illnesses are completely debilitating and assistance programs can be a godsend. Unfortunately, very few are prepared for the financial impact of disability, just as many find themselves unprepared to finance long term care for the elderly. This is why we have assistance programs and professionals to help individuals and their families determine what to apply for and how.

All Federal and state assistance programs, such as food assistance, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, are need-based with eligibility standards. These standards are not necessarily fixed, and generally we see changes during January and April each year.

Individuals may be eligible for assistance based on their need, however the availability of any program is based on funding. Most have a waiting list

This article cannot substitute for the professional advice of an elder law attorney, but it is useful to understand the terms and programs. You can glance over the basic criteria for eligibility and income standards before you meet with a professional or attempt to apply to assistance.

Terms you need to know

ACHA – Agency for Health Care Administration that manages Medicaid services in the State.

CARES – Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long Term Care Services that provides an assessment of care needs to meet eligibility.

DCF – The Department of Children and Families that determines eligibility for Medicaid services.

ACCESS – The Portal to apply for benefits, check case status of pending benefits, or view current benefits.

SSI – Supplemental Security Income that provides cash assistance and Medicaid to the aged, blind, and disabled who meet eligibility.

Medicare – A federal health insurance program that provides hospital insurance (part A), Medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug plans (Part D). Comes with regular Social Security or with Social Security Disability (after 24 months).

Medicaid – A federal program funded by both federal and state dollars, states have some flexibility in administrating the program so eligibility requirements and the programs and services vary from State to State.

General Eligibility Rules for all Medicaid programs:

  • 65 or blind, or disabled
  • US Citizen or qualified non-citizen
  • Florida resident
  • Social Security number
  • Must file for any benefits for which they may be eligible (pensions, retirement benefits, Veterans Benefits)
  • Must file for any other health insurance available
  • Provide proof of identity

Income and Assets Standards

Assets that count:

  • Real property other than homestead (unless jointly held, income producing or up for sale)
  • Bank accounts, CDs, money market funds, stocks, bonds, trusts, life insurance cash value

Assets that don’t count:

  • Homestead- must have “intent to return”
  • One vehicle if less than 7 years old, any others if over 7 years
  • Burial funds up to $2500
  • Irrevocable burial contracts
  • Term life insurance or any policy or policies where total face value does not exceed $2500

Income that counts:

  • Social Security, Pensions, interest, dividends, income from rental property, IRA distributions, annuity payments, alimony and support payments.
  • Medicaid looks at gross income before deductions

Income that does not count:

  • VA aid and attendance payments

Websites that you may want to visit to learn more:

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