What is Medicaid's "Five-Year Look Back" Period?When you apply for Medicaid, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will look to see if you gifted any assets in the five years prior to your application date. This is Medicaid’s five-year look back period.
The Medicaid transfer of asset rules generally penalize uncompensated transfers, or gifts, made during the five-year look back period. The transfer of asset rules delay eligibility for Medicaid Long-Term Care for a period of time after eligibility. If assets have been gifted, a penalty period is imposed. Currently DSHS imposes a one month penalty for each $9,038 gifted. By way of example, a gift of $108,456 would result in a 12-month penalty period. During this time the applicant would not be eligible for Medicaid Long-Term Care benefits.
Transfers made prior to the look back period are not subject to a penalty period. Transfers which were not made for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid Long-Term Care benefits should not result in a delay in eligibility. However, there exists a rebuttable presumption that transfers made within the look back period are made for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Also, certain transfers are specifically exempt from the Medicaid transfer rule and do not create a period of ineligibility.
Medicaid transfer rules and eligibility rules are complicated. If you are considering transferring assets, or you have made a transfer in the past five years, and now need to apply for Medicaid, we encourage you to consult with an experienced Elder Law attorney.
The experienced Washington Elder Law Attorneys of Elder Law Group PLLC can help you design an Asset Protection Estate PlanTM that is best tailored to meet your objectives and preserve your assets. We can also help you explore the Medicaid Asset Preservation StrategyTM that is appropriate for you.
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Elder Law Group PLLC has been recognized as one of the fasted growing law firms in the U.S. as an Annual Law Firm 500 Award honoree. Contact us or call (509) 468-0551 (Spokane office), or (509) 579-0206 (Tri-Cities office), for personal, compassionate guidance in Asset Protection Estate Planning and Elder Law.