Do You Need an Attorney to File a Medicaid Application?

The New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section’s informational pamphlet “Why Your Medicaid Application Should be Entrusted to an Elder Law Attorney” is made available to you to assist you in understanding the benefits of utilizing a qualified Elder Law Attorney for your Long-Term Care Planning and Medicaid needs.

In New York, it is not required that an attorney assist with the Medicaid application. In fact, you can prepare the application yourself. There are many entities, agencies, or divisions within hospitals and nursing homes which may offer to prepare and submit the application for you for free or for a reduced fee. However, you must exercise great caution when accepting that help, as those entities and agencies are not obligated to advise you of your rights and are not permitted to give legal advice or implement legal strategies. Using these services might expose you and your family to risk.

Depending upon the program for which you are applying, different information may be required. All Medicaid applications, regardless of benefits sought, require extensive personal documentation and detailed proof of income. Certain programs require proof of assets and sixty months of records for all assets held during that period.

An experienced Elder Law Attorney can advise you on the benefits available, the process for obtaining the benefits you need, the provisions of the law that might enable your family to protect assets, and the rights that certain family members of the applicant may have.

Be Wary Of:

  • Offers to prepare the Medicaid application free of charge or at a significantly reduced rate. (If it’s “too good to be true,” it probably is!)
  • Persons giving legal advice or offering Medicaid Trusts without being an attorney admitted to the New York State Bar.
  • Guarantees of Medicaid eligibility or other government benefits.
  • Being told that a “spend down” of assets is the only option to get Medicaid.
  • Online “Do-It-Yourself” Guides, Kits, or Forms.

The law has many nuances and intricacies. A qualified Elder Law Attorney has the obligation to ensure that you are informed of the provisions of law related to Medicaid, and to answer any questions you may have. The Elder Law Attorney does not work for the nursing home. In fact, the Elder Law Attorney has an ethical duty to advocate for you and your interests.

Failing to use an Elder Law Attorney could expose you to the following risks:

  • Failure to be fully informed of spousal rights;
  • Failure to be informed of opportunities for asset protection;
  • Incomplete or inaccurate application submission;
  • Denial of application due to failure to provide information;
  • Failure to be informed of consequences of prior actions;
  • Imposition of a penalty period for which mitigation strategies could have been implemented;
  • Failure to have a dedicated advocate working with you through the process.

To read more about cases where an Elder Law Attorney can assist, please download the full Brochure below. Please contact the Pierro Law Group if you have any questions about Medicaid Planning strategies, potential emergency or elder care crisis solutions, the NY Medicaid application process or Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts.

Why Your Medicaid Application Should Be Entrusted to an Elder Law Attorney (PDF)