Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Caregiving Tools - For Those Caregiving and Those Advising

Category: Elder Law

From the Family Caregivers Alliance, some excellent tools for Caregivers and professionals who work with Caregivers.

Those who are caring for an elderly or disabled family member have unique needs and concerns.
"Approximately 44 million American families and friends provide unpaid care to another adult, sometimes around the clock. Wives, daughters, sons, partners, fathers, nieces, brothers: —they provide approximately 80 percent of the long-term care in the United States."
For Caregivers, Caregiving Info & Advice has a wealth of resources on topics ranging from hands on skills to Caregiver depression (an all too common result ofCaregivingg).

For professionals who work with Caregivers, there is a Caregivers Count Toolkit, described as:

"It's a step-by-step resource filled with practical information and resources. It'’s designed for program administrators and practitioners to:

1. Sharpen your awareness of famiCaregiversers as an at-risk population in need of assessments to determine their own physical, emotional and financial problems.

2. Give you new knowledge and skills so you can create and put to useCaregiverver assessment that works in your particular practice setting."

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What is the Medicaid Look-Back Period under the DRA

Category: Elder Law

What is the appropriate Medicaid Look-Back period under the DRA?

This is an important question for anyone making a Medicaid application in that the local office will request financial records for the time period of the Look-Back. I find it can be very difficult to gather 3 years of records for a senior who now requires Medicaid to pay for his or her long term care - 5 years is an even greater burden.

So what is the Look-Back Period? I had been going with 60 months, as until recently all the States that had created the DRA enacting legislation had used that timeframe.

However, in Most States Fudging DRA Look-Back Change from Elderlawanswers.com, there is an excellent analysis that the states may have the changes to the Look-Back Period wrong.

In New York's enacting legislation, they have taken note of the fact that that DRA did NOT in fact changes the Look-Back Period from 36 months to 60 months. Instead, it said that IF there had been a transfer in the 60 months after enactment, THEN there was a 60 month Look-Back for the transfers.

New York then has taken a staggered approach to the Look-Back Period, since 60 months obviously have not expired since the DRA was enacted. For the first 36 months, the Look-Back Period remains 36 months (since any transfers would be before the DRA was enacted). The Look-Back Period then extends to 37 months in the 37th month after the DRA to capture any transfer in that month, until it finally reaches 60 months.

This approach appears to resolve the issue of the 60 month Look-Back for transfers after 2.8.06 with the 36 month Look-Back period in the Code not being changed by the DRA.

One would hope that in creating its enacting legislation to the DRA that New Jersey would take such a measured approach as well.

Most States Fudging DRA Look-Back Change - Elder Law Answers Articles:

"Since 1993, the look-back date on a Medicaid application for long-term care coverage has been 36 months, 42 U.S.C. S. 1396p(c)(1)(B), and this figure was not erased by Congress in the amendments to the statute it made through the DRA. Instead, the 36-month figure was preserved and a 60-month look-back date was added to the statute but made applicable only to transfers that occurred after the DRA effective date.

The last time Congress made any modification to the look-back date was in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, P.L 103-66 (OBRA-93), when it simply deleted '30' from the statute and replaced it with '36,' and thereby left little doubt that it intended to increase the look-back period on all prospective applications to 36 months. But Congress chose not to make the change in the same manner in its DRA amendments. In keeping the 36-month figure in the statute, Congress was clearly indicating that a 36-month look-back date is still applicable in some fashion. By attaching the 60-month look-back date to transfers made after the DRA enactment date, as opposed to applications filed after that date (a la OBRA-93), the design was obviously to at least phase in the extended look-back date over time. Based on the language Congress used in the DRA, the look-back period cannot be greater than 36 months until at least February 2009, because that will be the first point at which an
individual will have possibly made a transfer that occurred more than 36 months after the DRA enactment.

Agreeing with this reading of the DRA statute, New York keeps the look-back period at 36 months (60 months for trusts) until February 1, 2009. Beginning on that date, Medicaid offices will require resource documentation for the past 37 months (60 months for trusts). "

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Estate Tax Repeal Vote Down Again (3rd time the charm?)

Category: Estate and Inheritance Tax

Last night the US Senate voted against the minimum wage hike, estate tax reform, other tax breaks bill recently passed by the House in an effort to push through estate tax repeal for the third time in the past few months.

From Bloomberg.com

"Senate Republicans bet on luring Democrats into voting for a reduction of the estate tax by combining it with an increase in the minimum wage and popular tax breaks. Last night they lost.

The Senate fell four votes short of the 60 needed to move forward on what Majority Leader Bill Frist called the ``trifecta'' legislation.

``The bottom line is that we bet on the wrong horses,'' said Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. ``Maybe we should've taken a bet that was more likely to pay off.''

The Senate, just before recessing for the rest of August, did approve 93-5 a measure to overhaul the U.S. private pension system that now heads to President George W. Bush's desk. Left behind are the pieces of the trifecta legislation. "

More coverage from The Washington Post - Senate Rejects Estate, Minimum Wage Bill

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

NJ Real Estate Tax Rebate Filing Extended to October 31

Category: Tax Law and Planning

In NJ, the state with the most out of control property taxes in the Union, there is a plan known as "NJ FAIR" (I make no comments on the name). The purpose of the program is to give a property tax rebate to home-owners and tenants.

All NJ homeowners should have recently received an package in the mail with instructions for calling in to file for the rebate. The rebate can also be filed online. NJ tenants can file a Form TR-1040, FAIR tenant rebate application, either by paper or online. For more information, residents and tenants should go the the New Jersey Division of Taxation.

You can check the status of your rebate filing online as well.

What will all this filing get you? Anywhere between $200 and $350 if you are under 65, and don't have income greater than $200,000; and between $500 and $1200 if you are over 65, and again don't have income greater than $200,000. See Chart Here.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

CMS Issues Guidance on DRA to State Medicaid Offices

Category: Elder Law,

Courtesy of Elderlawanswers.com, at long last, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has finally given guidance to the State Medicaid directors on the provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA).

Some of the guidelines provided:

The lookback period is 60 months for any transfer of assets made on or after the date of enactment of the DRA (February 8, 2006).

  • The period of ineligibility will begin with the later of the first day of a month during or the month after which assets have been transferred for less than fair market value, or the date on which the individual is eligible for medical assistance under the state plan and is receiving institutional level of care services that, were it not for the imposition of the penalty period, would be covered by Medicaid.

  • Once a penalty period is imposed, it is not tolled but instead will continue to run if an individual subsequently stops receiving long-term care.

  • The state must be named as a remainder beneficiary on an annuity purchased on or after February 8, 2006. CMS states that the provisions of 1917(c)(1)(G), which set forth required criteria if an annuity purchased by or on behalf of an annuitant who has applied for medical assistance is not to be treated as a transfer of assets, are "in addition to those specified in 1917(c)(1)(F) pertaining to the State's position as remainder beneficiary." [boldface in original]

  • If the state is not named as a remainder beneficiary, the purchase of the annuity will be considered a transfer for less than fair market value. CMS interprets the statute to mean that the full purchase value of the annuity will be considered the amount transferred.

  • Any transaction that changes the course of payments to be made by the annuity or the treatment of the income or principal of the annuity (including additions of principal, elective withdrawals, requests to change the distribution of the annuity, elections to annuitize the contract and similar actions) taken on or after February 8, 2006, will cause all transfer provisions of the DRA to apply to the annuity.

The guidelines also cover the following topics:

  • The application of the income first rule under spousal impoverishment.

  • Disqualification for long-term care coverage for individuals with more than $500,000 in equity in their house.

  • The treatment of continuing care retirement community entrance fees.

  • The expansion of state long-term care insurance partnerships.

The full text of the documents is available from the National Senior Citizens Law Center:

Read the CMS Documents:

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