The Top 10 Elder Law Decisions of 2022

Top 10 list on a chalkboard.The following is ElderLawAnswers’ annual roundup of the top 10 elder law decisions for the past year, as measured by the number of unique pageviews each case summary received. Decisions appear in chronological order.

Most popular in 2022 among ELA members was Dept. of Human Services v. Hobart. In the decision, an Oregon appeals court ruled that court may set aside a Medicaid recipient’s transfer of her house to her husband for no consideration in order to allow the state to recover Medicaid benefits from the property.

1. Nursing Home Entitled to Judgment Against Resident’s Daughter Who Agreed to Be Personally Liable in Admission Agreement

Rhode Island’s highest court grants summary judgment to a nursing home in a case against a resident’s daughter who agreed to be personally liable for the resident’s care in the admission agreement. Saint Elizabeth Home v. Gorham (R.I., No. 2021-27-Appeal, Jan. 13, 2022).

2. Medicaid Applicant Not Entitled to Hardship Waiver Because No Showing That Medicaid Would Be Only Care Source

A New York appeals court holds that a Medicaid applicant found to be ineligible due to a transfer of assets is not entitled to an undue hardship waiver because she could not prove she would be unable to obtain medical care without Medicaid. Hall v. Zucker (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., 4th Dept., No. TP 20-01235, Feb. 4, 2022).

3. Medicaid Recipient’s Transfer of House to Husband Is Set Aside to Allow State to Recover Benefits

Holding that state law does not conflict with federal Medicaid law, an Oregon appeals court rules that a court may set aside a Medicaid recipient’s transfer of her house to her husband for no consideration in order to allow the state to recover Medicaid benefits from the property. Dept. of Human Services v. Hobart (Or. Ct. App., No. A170712, March 2, 2022).

4. Trustee of Trust Subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies

A Minnesota appeals court holds that a lower court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over a case brought by the trustee of a trust who was arguing the state had no right to recover Medicaid benefits, because the trustee did not exhaust his administrative remedies. Hammerberg v. Harpstead (Minn. Ct. App., No. A21-1106, April 11, 2022).

5. Prior Occupancy of Home Not Required for It to Be Excluded as an Available Resource

A Texas appeals court rules that a couple who purchased a half interest in their daughter’s home after they moved into a nursing home were eligible for Medicaid, and the house is not a countable resource for Medicaid eligibility purposes because they intended to move there if they were discharged. Texas Health and Human Services Commission v. Estate of Burt (Tex. Ct. App., 3rd Dist., No.03-20-00462-CV, April 21, 2022).

6. Nursing Home’s Lawsuit Against Spouse of Resident Not Prohibited by Laws Limiting Third-Party Liability

Reversing a lower court, an Ohio appeals court holds that a nursing home’s lawsuit against the spouse of a resident who signed a promissory note agreeing to pay his wife’s unpaid balance does not violate federal and state law prohibitions against third-party liability because the payment agreement was not related to his wife’s admission to the nursing home. Laurels of Huber Hts. v. Taylor (Ohio Ct. App., 2nd Dist., No. 29223, April 29, 2022).

7. Medicaid Agency Cannot Count Resource That Medicaid Applicant Is Making Reasonable Effort to Sell

An Ohio appeals court rules that the Medicaid agency must apply the reasonable-efforts exclusion from Social Security law to Medicaid recipients and must determine whether an applicant is making a reasonable effort to sell a resource before counting it. Gardner v. Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services (Ohio Ct. App., 1st Dist., No. C-210376, June 15, 2022).

8. POA Lacked Authority to Create Trust

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reverses in part the Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment to children who sued their uncle, the creator of a trust in their family matriarch’s name that they claimed was invalid. In Barbetti v. Stempniewicz, (Mass. No. SJC-13149 (June 28, 2022).

9. Property Listed for Sale Ruled Available as Countable Resource for Medicaid Eligibility

The Ohio Court of Appeals affirms the denial of retroactive Medicaid benefits where the applicant owned real property listed for sale but was unable to sell it, concluding the property was “available” as a countable resource. Chamberlain v. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, 2022 Ohio 2309 (Ohio Ct. App. 2022, AC-210145, July 1, 2022).

10. Medicaid Applicant’s Start Date Should Have Been Earlier, But Penalty for Gifts During Lookback Period Was Appropriate

A New Jersey administrative division finds that a married couple applying for Medicaid made an annuity irrevocable and could therefore qualify for Medicaid on an earlier date. However, it also determines that the applicant and her spouse failed to rebut the presumption that gifts made in the five-year lookback period were exclusively for a purpose other than qualifying for Medicaid. In A.V. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services and Cumberland County Board of Social Services (OAL Dkt No. HMA 08575-2021, August 19, 2022).