If you apply for homecare or nursing home care paid for by the State of Connecticut or its Medicaid program, you will be given a Notice of Liability. The person who hands it to you may say that the state is going to come back against you or your family to get reimbursed for the money that state spent. Or they may say that a lien will be put on your house. The notice and statements by workers that a lien will be put on your house are frightening. They are also misleading.
The first line of one notice says “Connecticut State law allows the State to recover money from you, or from your legally liable relatives (spouse or parent of a child under 18 years old) to cover the costs of the care or support provided to you or paid on your behalf.” There is more to the notice that qualifies the fear inducing notice and says you “may be required to pay for part or all of that care or support.” “May” is the key word. Don’t be terrified. Do not forego needed care at home because of fear of the unknown. Call an elder law attorney who can explain if you might be liable.
First, if you get care through the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, Level I or II, no lien will be put on your home. If you are a single person and then die, the state will seek reimbursement from your estate, but if you are married they won’t go after your spouse.
Second, if you get care through Medicaid, and are married, the state will not go after your spouse if you die. And if you are married the state will not put a lien on the house if it is in your spouse’s name.
Third, the state will put a lien on the house if you are a single person living at home, on Medicaid. But if you can get $70,000 a year worth of care to stay at home, that’s well worth it. And there are steps you should take before applying for care so that you can still use the value of your house toward your care.
Fourth, your children are not liable for your care, unless they wrongfully took money from you, or received gifts or failed to properly apply for Medicaid, that caused a penalty that causes a nursing home to go unpaid.
If you do seek help and receive a misleading notice, ask an elder law attorney who can explain to you whether or not there will be a recovery or a lien. In most cases, there will not be. Do not be frightened into foregoing home care because of erroneous or misleading statements.
Attorney Stephen O. Allaire is a partner in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law, LLC, a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc., with offices at 271 Farmington Avenue, Bristol, (860) 584-2384)