Asked in Health Care Law and Elder Law for Alabama

Q: Is there a way around Medicare’s five year look back policy?

The house is under my grandma’s name, with my dad as beneficiary for four years. With her health declining fast due to dementia, we need to get her into a nursing home asap. Is there a way to prevent Medicare from taking the house?

My dad and I moved in with her to be her caregivers before her health got to this point and we can’t afford to find somewhere else to live on such short notice with me being in college.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jack T. Carney
Jack T. Carney
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: I cannot give you a specific recommendation, as these types of elder law matters are highly fact specific. However, you might want to look into the caregiver child exemption. Normally you cannot transfer the home within 5 years of the application for Medicaid benefits or it will result in a transfer penalty. However, if a child resided in the home with the person needing care for two years AND that child provided care that kept the person out of a nursing home, Alabama Medicaid allows the home to pass to the child without penalty.

There are other exceptions to the transfer penalty rules. Another example is the disabled child exemption. If a child is "disabled," then the person needing care can transfer their home to that child without penalty.

Good luck to you and your family. These situations can be difficult.

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