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Medicaid Crisis Planning in California

Serving Families and Individuals Throughout San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside Counties

Change is life's only constant.  Sometimes these changes strike without warning.  If you or a loved one has experienced a sudden illness or serious accident, you understand how abruptly everything can change.  Are you or a loved one suddenly in need of nursing home care? Finding and affording quality care on short notice can be stressful and draining.  We can help you determine the best options for care and how to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits to help finance them.

Long-Term Care: Counting the Cost

Long-term care is expensive, and these costs only continue to increase as baby boomers age.  According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the annual cost of care will double in the next 20 years, increasing from $73,000 to $131,800.  With improved medical care, the average life span of adults also is increasing; this translates into more years of care at increasingly higher rates. Without some sort of financial assistance, these costs could be financially devastating.  In fact, your entire life savings could be quickly depleted within a few years of needing long-term care.  This is where Medi-Cal can help.

Medi-Cal is a joint federal and state program to assist those with low income and limited resources.  While Medicare provides limited long-term care coverage, Medi-Cal is much more extensive.  However, because of its restrictions, qualifying for Medi-Cal can be extremely difficult, but paying for a nursing home without it could be all but impossible.

The Medicaid Maze

Known as Medi-Cal in California, and Medicaid in all other states, the requirements vary from state to state, but they still share one common element:  Complexity.  Each state specifies a maximum allowed income for individuals and couples in order to qualify for Medicaid.  A single applicant's total assets cannot exceed $2,000, although certain possessions, like your home and automobile, are “exempted,” while you are alive, this figure is still alarming.  If the applicant is married, the process becomes more complicated.  For the recipient to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits in California the community spouse's assets cannot exceed $117,240* So, if a couple has assets which exceed the $117,240 limit, they must “spend down” their assets to that level before the applicant spouse in need of long term care will qualify for Medi-Cal benefits.

What can you do if the value of your “non-exempt” assets exceeds the $117,240 limit?  If you give your extra assets away, which seems like an obvious choice, you will encounter greater problems.  Violating this “Transfer Penalty Rule” could disqualify you from receiving Medicaid for months or years, depending on how much you gave away.

If your need for nursing home care is immediate, time is not something you can afford to lose.

Medicaid Qualification Process: Finding the Way

This is only a brief and oversimplified review of a few Medicaid rules, of which there are myriad more.  Navigating them on your own could be a nightmare at best and subject you to penalties at worst. For more information, you can read our medicaid frequently asked questions page. Fortunately, the staff at Family First Estate Planning Law Center can help guide you through the Medicaid maze.  We can advise you throughout the application process, ensuring that you retain the maximum income and total assets allowed by law.


Seek appropriate counsel before you apply for and seek to qualify for Medicaid. We can give you – and your family – peace of mind during a difficult and uncertain time. When dealing with Medicaid, legal advice is something you cannot afford to go without.  You can schedule a consultation today.

* This amount (the “Community Spouse Resource Allowance”) is adjusted annually.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.


Family First Estate Planning Law Center is committed to answering your questions about Asset Protection, Elder Law, Medicaid, Special Needs Planning, Trusts & Wills and Probate law issues in California.

We offer a free consultation and we’ll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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