Will Medicaid take my mom’s home?

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. What are the exceptions in New Jersey for Medicaid allowances to keep a home as a dependent caregiver?
— Caregiver

A. This is an important topic for the many families that are trying to care for their aging parents.

The exception you refer to allows New Jersey Medicaid claimants the ability to transfer their home to an adult child who resided with and cared for the aging parent at least two years before immediate Medicaid eligibility, said Geraldine Callahan of Callahan Financial Services in East Hanover.

She said to qualify, the child must prove that they provided a level of care that delayed admittance to a nursing home.

This care would include helping with activities of daily living such as bathing, transferring, feeding, dressing, toileting, medication assistance, driving to doctor appointments and keeping the parent safe, she said.

“The elderly individual transferring the home would not be subject to the five-year look back when specific rules are met,” Callahan said. “The five-year look back is a rule that considers asset transfers a person makes five years before applying for Medicaid. Transfers made could result in a disqualification period.”

She recommends you speak to an attorney before any transfers are made.

Callahan said New Jersey rules for the caregiving child exemption are rigorous and significant documentation is required, including birth certificates or adoption paperwork and proof of home ownership.

“Medicaid will scrutinize an adult caregiver who works and claims to care for a parent full time; generally, a person who works full time cannot care for a parent full time,” she said.

Documentation of care will be needed, she said. Also, it will be useful to have documentation showing events and situations that occurred during the two years that prevented institutionalization.

“Medicaid may request letters from friends, family members, doctors and other healthcare professionals,” she said, noting medical records and proof of residence for previous two years before application will also be part of the process.

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