Look-Back-Period as it Applies to MEDICAID

Medicaid is a means tested program. The relevance of this statement is that not everyone is eligible for this benefit. The State will examine the applicant’s, (and if they are married their spouse’s), economic ability to privately pay for nursing home care and whether they made any gifts. Medicaid normally considers any transfer of assets for less than fair market a “gift.”

All Maryland Medicaid applicants must give the State permission to examine their, (and their spouses’), assets for 60 months. That five year time frame is referred to as the “Look Back Period.” The examination includes assets currently owned and those that were closed or transferred during look back period. The State “looks back” (examines) the applicant’s assets to determine if the applicant or their spouse made any gifts.

The purpose of the look back period is to prevent Medicaid applicants from giving away most of their assets to qualify for this program.  The examination is retroactive starting with the month of application. The state imposes an economic penalty when gifts are made during the look back period. This penalty is that the applicant must privately pay for care for a period of time. Most, but not all, such gifts or transfers are penalized. There may be other considerations that the State can examine.

The regulations that control Maryland’s Medicaid program, including gifting, are reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Our system in Maryland is extremely complex. It is recommended you meet with an experienced Elder Law attorney to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your specific goals and to preserve assets.

Richard Abraham, Esquire, has more than 30 years of experience providing representation in Medicaid and Elder Law cases.  443-901-1333 Telephone   www.AbrahamBauer.com  

Article submitted by Richard Abraham, ESQ, MSRN Member