Hurley Elder Care Law Newsletter - May 2017
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May 2017   

Nursing Home Medicaid for Married Couples Still Misunderstood and How to Protect the Well Spouse—

An Explanation of Assets 

Nursing Home Medicaid eligibility rules are complex, and this is especially true for nursing home residents with spouses. Our April newsletter explained how income impacts Medicaid eligibility for married couples (hyperlink to April newsletter). This month, we will focus on how assets affect eligibility. As a refresher, Medicaid is a means-tested, government-provided health insurance benefit. Most nursing home residents in Georgia rely on Medicaid to help pay some of their costs.  Nursing home residents receiving Medicaid benefits do have a cost-share; the nursing home resident pays all of their income to the nursing home (with a few exceptions we will explain in future blog posts), and Medicaid pays the difference. There are rules for who can get Medicaid benefits—there are both income and assets limits.

For a nursing home resident to be eligible for Medicaid, the resident’s countable assets must be less than $2,000.  There are some exempt assets (e.g., one car, one house, retirement funds, burial items, and a pre-paid burial fund valued at up to $10,000), but all liquid assets (including bank accounts, stocks, bonds, CDs, and life insurance funds) must equal less than $2,000 for the resident to qualify for Medicaid. If the nursing home resident has a spouse, though, the spouse can have up to $120,900 in his/her name and the nursing home spouse can still be eligible for Medicaid. This $120,900 amount is the Community Spouse Resource Allowance for 2017, and this allowance is intended to keep from impoverishing the well spouse.  Georgia’s Medicaid program has rules in place to help the well spouse when the other spouse needs nursing home care.  In Georgia, the well spouse can keep up to $120,900, one car, one house, and retirement funds while the nursing home spouse receives Medicaid benefits to pay for the nursing home. This bit of information is welcome news to many of our clients who have been told bad information about how Medicaid works.

As we mentioned in our blog post earlier this week, the Medicaid Look Back Period does not apply to spouses. When someone applies for Medicaid, they are asked about any gifts or transfers of assets for the 5 years (or 60 months) prior to applying for Medicaid. This is the government’s way of deterring people from purposefully impoverishing themselves to get Medicaid benefits. It works like this: For every $6,175 (as of 2016) given away during the 60 months preceding the Medicaid application, the applicant will receive a one-month penalty during which Medicaid will not pay for their care. Every gift or transfer of assets during the 5-year period could be subject to a penalty EXCEPT for gifts or transfers made between spouses. Spouses can transfer assets/money/property between one another without worrying about the transfer penalty.  This is especially helpful in avoiding Medicaid Estate Recovery. Medicaid has a method for reclaiming any monies spent on a beneficiary’s behalf; this usually takes the form of a lien placed on any real property in the beneficiary’s name. If properties are transferred to spouses, they are no longer in the resident’s name and cannot have a lien placed on them by Medicaid.

Medicaid has different rules for spouses than for individuals, and these rules are often misunderstood. We will continue to share more in-depth information about Nursing Home Medicaid for Couples in our upcoming blogs and newsletters. So be sure to follow our blog ( or follow us on Facebook or Twitter! And if you or someone you know has questions about how Medicaid could work for them; please call our office for a complimentary consultation at (404) 843-0121.

Family Business We are excited to announce that the Hurley Elder Care Law team is growing AGAIN!Our Public Benefits Specialist, Theresa, is expecting a baby girl in October 2017! This will be Theresa and her husband’s first child, Dawn’s 4th grandchild and Sandi’s 4th great-grandchild. Congratulations to the Denlinger/Houston family!
Upcoming Speaking Events & CEUs

Tuesday, May 16- Join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA, for a Complimentary Presentation on “VA Aid and Attendance: Making the Most of Your Past Service” at Heritage of Sandy Plains
The “Aid and Attendance” benefit is one of the VA’s best-kept secrets from our retired service men and women. War time veterans over age 65 who require the “aid and attendance” of another person to meet their needs may receive as much as $2,127 per month to help defer the cost of long-term care expenses such as home care, assisted living community fees and nursing home costs. Surviving spouses can qualify for up to $1153 per month. Learn more about this “hidden benefit” and other non-service related benefits. This event is free and open to the public. 5:30PM-7:00PM; Heritage of Sandy Plains, 3039 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta, GA 30066, RSVP: Dyan Bernstein, 

The process of applying for guardianship (or conservatorship) is complex and can be overwhelming to healthcare professionals and families alike – Ms. Humphrey will review the basics of guardianship and conservatorship. In addition, learn what can be done to avoid Guardianship/Conservatorship.  Current information on Georgia’s Advance Directive will also be provided.  CEUs available:  1 ethic or core hour for social workers (GA NASW); 1 contact hour for case managers (CCMC); 1 contact hour for RNs (TNA). 11:30AM- 1:00PM; Ridgeview Institute, Pro North Auditorium (first building on left), 3995 S Cobb Dr SE, Smyrna, Georgia 30080, RSVP:

Thursday, May 18- Join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA, for a Complimentary Presentation on “Hidden Secrets of Veterans Benefits that the VA Won’t Tell You About” at Northlake Gardens
The “Aid and Attendance” benefit is one of the VA’s best-kept secrets from our retired service men and women.  Veterans over age 65 who are disabled can be eligible for as much as $2,127 per month in addition to any other VA pension or service related benefit they may receive.  Surviving spouses can qualify for up to $1,153 per month.  Learn more about this “hidden benefit” and other non-service related benefits. This event is free and open to the public. 3:00PM- 4:00PM; Northlake Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care, 1300 Montreal Road, Tucker, Georgia 30084, RSVP: Roslyn Jones, or 770-934-0034

Thursday, June 15-  Join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA, for a Complimentary Lunch CEU on “Ethical Dilemmas in Geriatric Care: A Case Study Approach” at Parc At Duluth    Please join Hurley Elder Care Law in a discussion of unique ethical dilemmas in geriatric care. With the use of case studies, we will explore issues related to client identification, capacity, confidentiality, undue influence, conflicts of interest, and informed consent. Each case is unique, and we look forward to your input. CEUs available:  1 core or ethic hour for social workers (GA NASW); 1 contact hour for case managers (CCMC) and 1 contact hour for RNs (TNA). 11:00AM -1:00PM; Parc at Duluth, 3315 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Duluth, GA  30096,  RSVP:

Tuesday, June 20- Join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA, for a Complimentary Presentation on “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know- The Importance of Being Educated Prior to Crisis” at Park Springs Health Services
The options for paying for long-term care are limited.  Most families do not realize their limited options until they are in a crisis—usually when their loved one is about to be discharged from a hospital.  Making decisions while in a crisis can be stressful and result in bad choices.  This seminar is intended to provide information prior to a crisis.  Learn how to best find, get and pay for good long-term care. This event is free and open to the public. 5:00PM-7:00PM; Park Springs Health Services, 500 Springhouse Circle, Stone Mountain, GA 30087, RSVP: Farnece Roberts at 678-684-3300 or

Thursday, June 22 -Join Michelle Allen, LCSW, for a Complimentary CEU on “Successful Nursing Home Placements" at Hurley Elder Care Law
Case managers and social workers must understand how to complete the DMA-6 and Level 1, how to navigate the options, and how to advise families on paying for nursing home care. Please join us to learn what you need to accomplish Successful Nursing Home Placements. CEUs available:  1 core hour for social workers; 1 contact hour for case managers. 4:00PM-5:30PM; Location: Hurley Elder Care Law,  100 Galleria Parkway, Suite 650, Atlanta, GA 30339, RSVP:

Tuesday, June 27- Join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA for a Complimentary Dinner CEU on “Capacity, Competency, and Ethical Interventions: A Legal Discussion for Healthcare Providers” at Elmcroft at Mt. Zion
Conflicts of interest and determining decision-making capacity often create complex ethical dilemmas for case managers, social workers, and other practitioners working with older adults. This presentation will provide guidance and tools for assessing areas of concern when clinicians are confronted with ethical dilemmas. Ms. Humphrey will also will review an ethical decision-making model for practitioners to use when confronted with such dilemmas in clinical practice. CEUs available:  1 ethic or core hour for social workers (GA NASW); 1 contact hour for case managers (CCMC); 1 contact hour for RNs (TNA). 5:00PM-6:30PM; Elmcroft of Mt. Zion, Jonesboro, GA 30236, RSVP:

For more details and a complete list of upcoming events, please visit Hurley Elder Care Law Community Education.
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Help for Sundowning- Methods to minimize sundowning.

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Alzheimer’s Statistics- These staggering figures will surprise most.  

Miles P. Hurley, JD, CELA  Miles P. Hurley founded Hurley Elder Care Law in 2006 to provide legal assistance to the elderly population on issues relating to aging including retaining independence, quality of life and financial security. Mr. Hurley is one of ten attorneys in the state of Georgia to receive the Elder Law Attorney Certification, and one of approximately 400 nationwide. 
Hurley Elder Care Law is dedicated to the process of long-term care and estate planning. 
Call us today for a free phone consultation with a client coordinator at (404) 843-0121.

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Hurley Elder Care Law
100 Galleria Pkwy, Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30339

Satellite Offices
2011 Commerce Dr. Suite 100, Peachtree City, GA 30269   
225 Creekstone Ridge, Woodstock, GA 30188       
2180 Satellite Blvd, Suite 400, Duluth, GA 30097

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