Here's a scary headline I read this week:
"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning residents of long-term care facilities and their families that some facilities may unlawfully require residents who are on Medicaid to sign over their $1,200 pandemic relief checks."
I mean, c'mon, really people?
Can this be true?
Residents of long-term care facilities are for the most part destitute. They have either been bled dry from the costs of nursing home care or had to spend down their assets to almost nothing so they could qualify for Medicaid. How can anyone rob them and be able to sleep at night? If you can steal from them, you are bottom-of-the-barrel.
There are plenty of nursing homes that provide excellent care. And unfortunately, there are plenty that provides substandard care. If I had to guess, I'd say it is the latter that is responsible for the theft of these checks. While in a rehab hospital my grandfather had a gold necklace stolen, and on it was his long-deceased mother's wedding ring. Both gone. So I have seen it first hand. Naturally, when we asked about it, no one had any idea what happened to the necklace and ring. They walked away. We will never know for sure.
This particular article is from cases in Iowa, but it's happening everywhere. Go ahead and read the rest of the article if you really want to get ticked off. And it should tick you off. This type of theft is disgusting and just plain cruel.
If you have a parent or grandparent in a long-term care facility, see if they received a check, and ask the facility if they deposited it. If they did, you should demand it be returned!
But here's the kicker - the facility can outright refuse to deal with you if you are not the nursing home resident's Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney. You need to have the legal authority granted to you by those documents so that you have the right to act on the resident's behalf.
So, what can you do now?
If you do not have a Health Care Proxy (HCP) or Power of Attorney (POA), get one. Now! Remember, the person signing the documents must still be competent to sign. If they aren't, you have to take more drastic measures with the Probate Court.
For a short time, we are providing a Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney at no additional charge if you schedule your Strategic Planning Session with us now. Call us to schedule it at 978-657-7437, or you can even book it online, HERE.
Once you have the HCP and POA, reach out to the nursing facility and demand an accounting of all charges and deposits for the last several months. See if there's an additional deposit on the account.
***Remember, not all stimulus checks were for exactly $1,200***
If you think you are still getting the run-around, you can actually request a record from the IRS to see if a check was sent. Again, you need the POA (or court order) to be able to request it. We can help you with that request as well.
The bottom line is you need to be vigilant if you have a family member in a nursing home. For more information and resources for families in nursing homes, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set up a helpline you can call: 617-660-5399.
What else can you do? Stay as well-informed as you can. Request our free book on Estate Planning and Elder law, HERE. You can also sign up for our free mailed monthly newsletter, HERE. The newsletter contains all kinds of monthly tips and info that will help you stay in the loop.
Read more from the article below.
Then, take some action.
“This is not just a horror story making the rounds. These are actual reports that our friends in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office have been getting—and handling. Other states have seen the same,” writes Lois Greisman, the FTC’s Elder Justice Coordinator, in a May 15 alert.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included one-time payments of up to $1,200 to millions of eligible individuals, based on their income. Ordinarily, nursing home and assisted living residents receiving Medicaid benefits must give all their income to the facility, minus a small “personal needs allowance.” However, the economic impact payments that are part of the CARES Act are tax credit. According to tax law, tax credits don’t count as “resources” for federal benefit programs like Medicaid. The money belongs to the resident, not the facility.
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