Michigan Medicaid Estate Recovery Update, May 4th, 2011

May 4, 2011

Filed under: Asset Protection,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits,Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 5:49 pm

Well, it looks like that estate recovery in Michigan will be coming down the pike.  As Michigan elder law lawyers, we new that the time was coming when we’d implement the estate recovery law that is already on the books.  Well that day may be coming in July, as the proposed policy changes were just released and I am reviewing the changes now.  The biggie is that there is a section in the policy manuel that addresses estate recovery.  There aren’t too many surprises in how it will be implemented, but it’s important to note that without proper planning a Michigan Medicaid applicant could lose their house, car, bank account, and insurance to the state of Michigan with the new proposed estate recovery policy.

It’s more important now, that if a loved one is going into a nursing home, that they effectively plan for Medicaid with the assistance of a Michigan medicaid planning attorney.  For more information on medicaid planning, elder law, and veterans benefits, visit the Michigan Elder Law Center.

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Michigan Medicare and Michigan Medicaid receive $1 million contract to develop dual-eligble program

April 20, 2011

Filed under: Elder Law,Holistic Estate Planning,Medicaid Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:50 pm

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have awarded Michigan a $1 million innovation contract to improve care and services for individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid according to a recent article in Crain’s.

According to the article, Michigan had applied for the contract to cut Medicaid costs, eliminate duplication of services, expand access to needed care and to improve the quality of care for people enrolled in both programs.  Michigan is one of 15 states to receive the contract.

As a Michigan elder law and Medicaid planning attorney who volunteers with the Area Agency on Aging 1-B and the Michigan Medicare and Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), this is great news.  For more information on Michigan elder law issues, visit the Michigan Elder Law Center which regularly has news on issues effecting Michigan seniors.

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Do I Have to Buy an Annuity for help with a VA Application?

November 23, 2010

Filed under: Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:18 pm

It seems more and more of the annuity salesman are moving into the “assisting” Veterans with their Veterans Benefits or VA Aid & Attendance applications. What they are doing is setting up a “non-profit” that will “assist” a veteran in completing the VA application, but then force one of the children to buy an annuity from them. This is a borderline scam, since first of all the annuity more often than not is actually detrimental to the Veteran’s over all long-term care plan.

In fact, I just reviewed a plan put together by a local outfit in Michigan, the American Association of Wartime Veterans.  The “plan” if you can call that included a “high commission” annuity that had a surrender charge.  This situation, the Veteran was actually transitioning possibly to a nursing home, and the outfit had the family make divestments that will cause a penalty for any type of Medicaid planning.  It’s just a bad situation and its happening all across the country.
Here’s an AARP article on the topic, Seminars Target Vets with Unwise Investments.
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Michigan Veterans Benefits Planning Information

July 13, 2010

Filed under: Elder Law,Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:40 pm

As an Oakland county elder law lawyer, I take great pride in being able to assist Michigan veterans in receiving the veterans benefits that they deserve.

There are currently over 25 million veterans alive in the United States. There are over 9 million surviving spouses of veterans currently living in the United States. Many of these veterans and surviving spouses are receiving long term care or will need some type of long term care in the near future, and there are funds available from the Veterans Administration (“VA”) to help pay for that care. Unfortunately, many of those who are eligible have no idea that any type of benefits exist for them or that an attorney can help them become eligible.

Benefits Available
There are three types of benefits available that provide a monthly cash payment to veterans who have long term health care needs. Below is an overview of the three benefits, and more detail will be provided on each benefit in the following paragraphs…

you can read the rest at the Michigan Elder Law Center.

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Michigan Veteran’s Benefit Law Update: Agent Orange

April 29, 2010

Filed under: Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:55 pm

Did you know that the Veterans Administration has now updated its Agent Orange Claims process? This is exciting, because it is one of the first times that the Veteran Affairs Department has attempted to automate its process.

As a Michigan Veterans Benefits lawyer, we see that the VA claims process is suffering from a bit of backlog, any type of automation in the process can only help to speed up the claims process for our Michigan veterans.

You can read the full story at the FederalTimes.com.

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Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Elder Law Attorney Christopher J. Berry Accredited by Veterans Administration

February 20, 2010

Filed under: Elder Law,Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:49 pm

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Elder Law Attorney Christopher J. Berry Accredited by Veterans’ Administration

I have been and now again have been re-welcomed by The Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.  as an accredited attorney for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veterans’ benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The accreditation allows me to assist Michigan Veterans with representation of their Veterans Administration claims.

I am honored to be one of the few Metro-Detroit elder law attorneys accredited with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

As a resource to Michigan Veterans, we’ve established a few websites that can provide information on both elder law (www.michiganelderlawcenter.com) and Michigan Veterans benefits (www.veteransbenefitsmichigan.com).  Also, you may request a free copy of our booklet entitled Long Term Care Benefits for Veterans.

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Caring for Senior Veterans-Veterans Administration Long Term Care Benefits

February 9, 2010

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:58 pm

In the month of February we celebrate Presidents Day in honor of two great United States Presidents; George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both were heroes of wars fought on U.S soil for freedom and unity of our great country.

The United States has fought many wars throughout the world since that time to keep freedom here at home and continues to do so. From the beginning our country has established a program to care for the men and women of our military who fought in those wars.

The veterans assistance program goes back to 1636 when Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony fought with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims enacted a law from English law that reads, “If any man shall be sent forth as a soldier and shall return maimed, he shall be maintained competently by the colony during his life.” In 1789 U. S. congress passed as law that pensions were to be provided to disabled veterans and their dependents and in 1811 the first domiciliary and medical facility for veterans was completed.

Since that time the Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a multitude of care facilities nationwide. An article from the US Department of Veterans Affairs website states:

“VA’s health care system has grown from 54 hospitals in 1930 to 157 medical centers in 2005, with at least one in each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia . More than 5.3 million people received care in VA health care facilities in 2005, a 29 percent increase over the 4.1 million treated just four years earlier.
VA operates more than 1,300 sites of care including nearly 900 ambulatory care and community-based outpatient clinics, 136 nursing homes, 43 residential rehabilitation treatment programs, nearly 90 comprehensive home-care programs, and more than 200 Veterans Centers.”

State veterans homes have been built or are approved for future construction in many states. For a list of state veteran nursing homes go to http://www.longtermcarelink.net/ref_state_veterans_va_nursing_homes.htm#List

Here are some of the benefits provided for Veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs:

* Health Care Clinics
* Mental Health
* Counseling
* Job training
* Burial and Memorial benefits
* Education
* VA Home Loan
* Compensation
* Pension
* Care Management
* Home Renovation for Disability
* Assisted Living
* Prosthetics
* Rehabilitation
* Weight management
* Nursing Homes
* Prescriptions
* Hospitals
and much more

Thomas Day, founder and Director of the National Care Planning Council, has a deep gratitude for the services provided by the VA. He served as an Air Force pilot during Vietnam. Later he developed a crippling auto-immune disease. It was the doctors at the George A Wahlen VA Regional Medical Center who prescribed a new treatment that saved his life. Many of the VA programs continue to improve his life.

Tom is passionate about the Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit and the relief it brings to veterans and their families who need care services and ways to pay for it in their elder years.

“Aid and attendance” is a commonly used term for a little-known veterans’ disability income. The official title of this benefit is “Pension.” The reason for using “aid and attendance” to refer to Pension is that many veterans or their single surviving spouses can become eligible if they have a regular need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver or if they are housebound. Evidence of this need for care must be certified by VA as a “rating.” With a rating, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension. Pension is also available to low income veteran households without a rating, but it is a lesser dollar amount.

Pension is an underused benefit.

There are different income categories for Pension, but the highest could pay as much as $1,949 a month in disability income to a qualifying veteran household. A study commissioned by VA in 2001 estimated, over the next 14 years, only about 30% of eligible veterans would apply for Pension. This is likely due to the fact that most veterans simply don’t know about it. In fact, about a third of all seniors in this country, age 65 and older, could become eligible for pension under the right circumstances. That’s how many elderly war veterans or their surviving spouses there are.

To receive Pension, a veteran must have served on active duty, at least 90 days, with at least one of those days during a period of war. There must be a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable. Single surviving spouses of such veterans are also eligible. If younger than 65, the veteran must be totally disabled. If age 65 and older, there is no requirement for disability. There is no age or disability requirement for a single surviving spouse.

There are income requirements, but a special provision does allow household income to be reduced by 12 months worth of future, recurring medical expenses. Normally, income is only reduced by medical expenses incurred in the month of application. These allowable, annualized medical expenses are such things as insurance premiums, ongoing prescription drug costs, out-of-pocket cost of monthly medical equipment rental, the cost of home care, the cost of paying adult children to provide care, the cost of adult day services, the cost of assisted living and the cost of a nursing home facility. These are all considered medical costs and they can be deducted from income to receive this benefit.

According to Mr. Day,

“I talk to a number of people every day who are inquiring about this benefit. In many cases they don’t know that the benefit can pay members of the family to take care of the veteran, the veteran couple or the surviving spouse at home. I have literally had people who are sacrificing dearly to take care of their loved ones at home, break down and cry when they find they can receive some money from the government for that sacrifice.”

Thomas Day has written two books for the National Care Planning Council to educate and help veterans obtain this long term care benefit. The first, “How to apply for the Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit” is to educate the public what the benefit is and how to get it. The claims process for pension is described and information is provided to help understand what documentation is necessary to provide evidence of recurring medical expenses. All forms necessary for filing a claim are included in the form support section of the book. Here is a link to the book. http://www.longtermcarelink.net/a16Veterans_standard_book.htm

Although this is a do-it-yourself book, Tom recommends if you have excessive assets and income or are not sure how to apply medical deductions, use the services of a qualified consultant.

The second book, “Aid & Attendance Handbook for Professionals & Consultants,” is for the professional consultant. It is 782 pages of rules, forms, instruction on the submission process and Medicaid planning strategies as well as software for calculating income, benefit and medical expenses. Here is a link to that book. http://www.veteranbook.com

The secret for receiving a successful award for aid and attendance or housebound ratings is not in filling out the form but in knowing what documents and evidence must be submitted with the application. Knowing the secrets for a successful award — with the special case of long term care recipients — is 95% of the battle. Even though the form is challenging, filling out and filing a claim is a formality.

A knowledgeable consultant can provide information to shorten VA’s decision window of 6 to 12 months to possibly 3 or 4 months. The consultant also understands how to maximize the benefit or avoid a denial. The consultant can also provide guidance for meeting the asset test. Finally, the consultant can provide the actual strategies for reallocating assets and he or she can arrange for trusts or income conversions to allow for the best possible accommodation of assets for beneficiaries thus avoiding or reducing taxes, family disputes and Medicaid penalties.

“I would like to see every eligible veteran obtain the Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit for their long term care needs.” Thomas Day, Director, National Care Planning Council.

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Michigan Elder Law Planning for Long-term Care Costs

December 2, 2011

Filed under: Elder Law,Medicaid Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 1:29 am

As a Michigan elder law attorney, I am often asked by financial planners how we can help their client insulate and protect their client resources from the devastating effects of long-term care costs.  Check out the Michigan Elder Law Attorney Website for more information.

Typically there are two situations where we help families, planning cases and crisis cases.  In our office a planning case is a situation where a family has some time before they need skilled nursing care.  The family may have a diagnoses of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease or maybe dementia, but the senior is still able to live at home, maybe with assistance or in an assisted living facility.  The senior doesn’t need skilled nursing care, yet.

If this is the case, we can use Asset Preservation Trust’s to try to shield the seniors assets so that they can insulate themselves from the devastating costs of long-term care.  Asset preservation trusts can be used in conjunction with long-term care planning.

Also, it’s very important that we update the financial powers of attorney so that they allow enough flexibility to, when the crisis comes, take the necessary actions to protect your loved one’s resources.  If the senior or loved one is a veteran, we have even more options with the Aid & Attendance VA benefit that is available.  This type of planning is all about improving your loved one’s quality of life.

The second type of planning is crisis planning.  In this situation your loved one is either in a nursing home and coming off of Medicare, is about to go into a skilled nursing care facility, or is already private paying for skilled nursing care.  In this situation our Michigan elder law firm can put strategies in place to generally protect fifty to one hundred percent of your loved one’s assets from long-term  care costs.

Veterans Benefits, Michigan Medicaid and Long-term Care

July 31, 2011

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits,Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:14 pm

Our Bloomfield Hills Elder Law attorney office often gets contact by individuals looking for assistance with their Veterans Benefits questions.  Often we’ll get calls asking whether “my father qualifies for the aid & attendance benefit?” and what we can do to help.  What many people are missing is that there is a whole continuum of care with aging.

The VA benefit is a great benefit when the veteran is needing home care or assisted living, but once a veteran is in need of skilled nursing care, quite often we are looking at another governmental program to help defray the devastating costs of long-term care.  That benefit is the Michigan Medicaid program.

Now the thing to keep in mind about the VA benefit and the Michigan Medicaid program is that the two programs have different rules for qualification.  For example, the Michigan Medicaid program has a 60 month look back period.  The differences in the two programs is why when individuals focus entirely on the VA benefit program and ignore the Medicaid program, as elder law attorneys serving Oakland County, Michigan, we educate our clients on both programs and how they work together.

More Seeking Estate Planning Guidance Online

May 24, 2011

Filed under: Do It Yourself Estate Planning Gone Wrong,Estate Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits,Probate Litigation,Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:05 pm

If you were to google “Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer“, “Oakland County Estate Planning Attorney,” or “Michigan Veterans Benefits Lawyer“, one of our websites would show up very favorably.  The reason for that is our goal and desire to educate the public on estate planning, elder law, and probate issues.

There is a recent blog post and study that suggest that more and more people are looking to the internet and going online to find guidance with regard to their estate planning legal needs according to a blog post from the UK.  According to the study, some 48 percent of individuals polled suggested they went online for information regarding estate planning.

Also according to the study, much of the “self help” or “do-it-yourselfer-ers” can pose huge risks when it comes to the estate planning process.  That’s no news if you follow some of our past posts on how this type of planning can go horribly wrong.



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