The first drastic change concerns the "look-back" period for transfers by a person applying for Medicaid. The law before the DRA provided a 3 year look-back period for transfers to another person, and a 5 year look-back period for transfers to a trust. The new law will allow for a look-back period of 5 years for all transfers. This means that a person applying for Medicaid assistance on January 1, 2007 must submit information on any transfers made on or after January 1, 2002. Furthermore, any transfers made during this period will subject that person to a penalty disqualification period. This will place a heavy burden on those who are elderly or may be suffering from Alzheimer's, as individuals must retain five years of financial records to ensure Medicaid qualification even though for personal income tax returns, the IRS only requires individuals to retain 3 years of records. Under previous law, the asset transfer penalties only applied to institutionalized care (stays in a nursing home). The new law will now apply asset transfer penalties to home-based Medicaid services such as in-home care.
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