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How We Saved Brenda $30,000 and Got Her Granddad Medicaid (Part 1)

Brenda needed help.  She had looked after her grandfather for years.  When he needed nursing level care she found a nursing home nearby, arranged for him to be admitted and, as agent under his Power of Attorney, spent down his remaining assets.  A dutiful granddaughter, she then scheduled an appointment with a New Jersey Medicaid caseworker to file a Medicaid application on his behalf.   It seemed to be pretty simple but that’s when the problems began.

Brenda gathered her grandfather’s financial records together and turned them over to the Medicaid caseworker at the first interview.  The caseworker completed the Medicaid application with her right there, printed it and had her sign it. She left the office thinking everything would proceed smoothly – that is until she got a letter from the same caseworker telling her that her grandfather still had $30,000 in assets remaining to be spent down.

Brenda was confused by the letter.  She was positive that her grandfather had only a few hundred dollars left in his checking account, the only asset he had remaining.  That’s when she called us for help.  I asked Brenda to provide me with copies of everything she gave to the caseworker.  Upon my review, I found 2 accounts that were titled in the name of her grandfather, custodian for Brenda, with the initials UGMA at the end.

I explained to Brenda that UGMA stands for Unified Gift to Minors Account.  Brenda said she didn’t even know those accounts existed.  She just gathered together whatever paperwork she could find for her grandfather and turned it all over to the caseworker.   “So, I just need to cash those accounts in and pay the nursing home another 3 months and then he’ll get Medicaid, right?’, she asked.  “That’s what the caseworker is insisting I must do.”

“No”, I told her.  “That’s not true.”  Next week I’ll reveal why the Medicaid caseworker was wrong and what did to fix Brenda’s problem.