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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

What is the Medicaid/MassHealth Look-Back Period?

POSTED ON: December 4, 2018

MassHealth (Medicaid in Massachusetts) is a joint federal/state program that assists individuals with payment of long-term care and other medical costs. MassHealth is designed to pay for long-term care once a person’s funds and assets are extremely limited. To be considered eligible for MassHealth, applicants must meet very strict guidelines in regard to their countable assets and income.

The Look-Back Period
When someone applies for MassHealth, MassHealth has the right to examine an applicant’s bank and financial records for up to five years immediately prior to the date of application. If they discover a transfer of assets during this period, whether to a trust or to another person, they will impose a disqualification period on the applicant’s eligibility (a length of time the applicant won’t be eligible for MassHealth).

The look-back period is designed to prevent people from pretending to be poor by transferring assets to others so that they can qualify for MassHealth, thus having the state pay for their long-term care. But the truth is that many seniors can’t afford to privately pay the high costs for long-term care. In the Boston area in 2017, approximate costs for assisted living were $5,975/month and $12,120/month for nursing homes.

That’s why many people engage in long-term planning to protect at least a portion of their savings and assets, so they can continue to support a spouse/child and still qualify for MassHealth. By utilizing strategies such as irrevocable trusts, gifting, converting countable assets into exempt assets, legal spend downs, and purchasing annuities and long-term care insurance, we can help arrange your assets to protect them from long-term care costs and qualify you for MassHealth assistance without losing your life’s savings. The key is to plan now.

Call us today at (617) 299-6976 or send an email to mkarr@maheritagelawcenter.com to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation to discuss how we can help you maximize your legal strategies to protect your assets. We can also help you through the burdensome and often confusing application process for MassHealth benefits.