Congress has established a period of ineligibility for Medicaid (a “penalty period”) for those who transferred assets before applying. For transfers made prior to February 8, 2006, state Medicaid officials would look only at transfers made within the 36 months prior to the Medicaid application (or 60 months if the transfer was made to or from certain kinds of trusts). But for transfers made after February 8, 2006, the so-called "look-back" period for all transfers is 60 months (five years).
While the look-back period determines whether a transfer will be penalized, the length of the penalty period depends on the amount transferred. For more on Medicaid’s asset transfer rules, click here.
Transfers should be made carefully, with an understanding of all the consequences. People who make transfers must be careful not to apply for Medicaid before the five-year look-back period elapses without first consulting with an elder law attorney. This is because the penalty could ultimately extend even longer than five years, depending on the size of the transfer.
As a rule, never transfer assets for Medicaid planning unless you keep enough funds in your name to (1) pay for any care needs you may have during the resulting period of ineligibility for Medicaid; and (2) feel comfortable and have sufficient resources to maintain your present lifestyle.
For more information about Medicaid planning, click here.