San Ramon Elder Law Lawyer Providing Assistance
Medi-Cal is a government program (California's Medicaid program) that
pays for health care for individuals who cannot afford to pay for such
services themselves. Many individuals who take advantage of this program
are senior citizens who are on fixed incomes. When Medi-Cal recipients
pass away, their estates sometimes become subject to estate recovery claims.
This means that the estates they leave behind will have to be used to
pay the state back for their Medi-Cal costs. In some cases, the state
can place liens on the estates of Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are still
alive, essentially placing certain assets of these individuals on hold
until the beneficiaries pass away.
There are ways to limit the amount of assets that are taken for Medi-Cal
recovery, or even to prevent any assets from being taken altogether. To
learn more about the Medi-Cal recovery process and how you and your family
can best protect your assets, it is best that you consult with knowledgeable
legal counsel. At
Blackwell, Santaella & Jahangiri Legal Services, LLP, we have skilled
San Ramon elder law attorneys who can provide you with helpful legal advice and advocacy.
Nursing Home Exemption
In the state of California, Medi-Cal recovery liens generally cannot be
placed on the homes of beneficiaries who live in nursing homes, nor can
such liens be placed on their surviving spouses. The exception, however,
is when the Medi-Cal beneficiary's home is not considered exempt and
the home is being put up for sale. In these types of situations, liens
can then be placed on the homes of Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are still living.
Proving Disability or Blindness of a Surviving Child
One way to get a claim for estate recovery removed is to show proof that
the deceased beneficiary's surviving child was disabled or blind at
the time that the claim was made, according to information provided by the
California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). This can be done by showing that the child receives benefits (or has
had his or her status verified) through the Federal Social Security Administration
(SSA), or through his or her enrollment in Medi-Cal with a disability
or blindness aid code. When there is no existing form or proof, the son
or daughter of the decedent—or his or her representative—can
request that an official disability determination be made. Once the department
is notified that proof of disability or blindness will be provided, the
recovery collections can be stopped for 60 days from the notification.
Proving Substantial Hardship
If someone is a recipient of an estate and making payment on a Medi-Cal
estate recovery claim would cause him or her substantial hardship, that
person could be able to get DHCS to waive his or her proportionate share
of the claim. The waiver application must be submitted within 60 days
of receiving the estate recovery letter. Here are just a few of factors
that can lead to a waiver for substantial hardship:
- The inheritance from the estate will allow the individual to stop being
eligible for medical assistance programs and/or public assistance payments
- Taking the estate property from the individual would lead to the loss of
the person's primary source of income; or the property from the estate
is part of business that produces income (such as a ranch or farm)
- When a blind, disabled or elderly person has lived in the home (part of
the estate) for at least one year before the death of the previous estate
owner; the blind, disabled or elderly person must continue to live there
and must not be able to obtain financing in order to pay for the medical debts
Challenging Medi-Cal recovery claims can be very complex. Make sure you
have the help of a competent
elder law attorney when dealing with these types of issues.
Contact our firm for assistance!