Gifting and Medicaid Eligibility

June 23, 2011

By Attorney David L. Engler

Many of the elderly and their children/heirs often find themselves wondering how to handle assets in anticipation of going on Medicaid. They have heard that the federal government has rules as to what can and cannot be done with assets. If you are within 5 years of going on Medicaid or are already in Medicaid then this article is for you.

If you find yourself in the situation where you will clearly be within Medicaid’s 5 year look back period, then gifting can help shield some resources under the right conditions.

A person is not allowed to give a gift simply to become eligible for Medicaid. That is why the federal government “looks back” 5 years when the person is applying for Medicaid benefits.

All gifts that were made within this look back period impose a penalty towards the person’s Medicaid eligibility, calculated as the gift’s value as a percentage of the monthly cost of care. This penalty is imposed by way of delaying the individuals final eligibility for Medicaid. In most cases, only gifts with a value greater than $1000 need to be reported, but technically all gifts count. Gifting to family members does not count towards this penalty as long as they are not leaving themselves destitute.

In the case where a non-family member receives a financial gift, the value of that gift will have to be paid down before they are eligible to receive benefits. So, if a gift of $40,000 is made to a non-family member, it is likely this would delay entry into Medicaid as much as 10 months ($40,000 divided by the amount of expected benefit, say $4,000 per month) The entire value of that gift is counted towards this penalty. If the gift is below the reporting threshold, $1000, then it does not count. In the end, a person receiving Medicaid cannot have more than $2000 in liquid assets.

So if there is money transferred before the person applies for Medicaid eligibility and gifts are made to the children and grandchildren by the proposed recipient themselves or by someone who has a power of attorney with defined ability to give a gift, it might not be counted as a resource for determining eligibility. Courts have held that they will not presume that a person was going to single mindedly conserve their resources to pay for long-term care. If the gift is above $1000 to the family member then the issue becomes did the donor leave enough money for themselves to reasonably take care of their future needs.

For example, if a person has liquid assets of $150,000 and believes they should provide for long-term care for themselves of 12 months, this can be deemed to be reasonable.

Medicaid eligibility defers from State to State so it is best to consult an elder law attorney who is familiar with your jurisdiction. We give this a thorough look when our clients call with such situations. That attorney might even have firsthand knowledge of the caseworker’s likes and dislikes which can be a tremendous asset.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777 Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

The World’s First Commencement Address Delivered by Twitter!

June 7, 2011

On Monday, June 6, 2011, I had the privilege of delivering the Commencement Address for the 2011 Graduating Class of The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

I wanted to do something that would be remembered by the graduates, have significance to them and keep their attention. I chose to deliver my comments by Twitter! While I spoke, the live feed from my Twitter account was projected using an overhead projector so they and the audience could see my words as they were delivered.

As I thought about this event, it occured to me that it might actually be the first time such a speech was delivered by Twitter. So I checked on Bing! and Google and could not find a prior event of this sort. My public relations people wrote up the press release below:

June 7, 2011

    For Immediate Release

The World’s First Commencement Speech delivered on Twitter!
In what may be the world’s first commencement speech delivered using the online social media, Attorney David L. Engler, President of Mahoning County Career and Technical Center’s Board, gave several pieces of advice to the Center’s 285 graduates in 20 separate tweets. Using twitter-speak abbreviations, his speech was simultaneously delivered to the assembled audience through overhead projection of his live Twitter feed, as he spoke.

Using current and topical humor, mixed with typical graduation speech wisdom, Attorney Engler captured the graduating audience’s attention while making it a speech that will probably be remembered as much for its brevity as its unique delivery. The graduation ceremony was held at the Center this past Monday.

Attorney Engler, who practices in Elder Law and Domestic/Family Law, is also a board member of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center as well as being a board member of Unlimited Classrooms, a public online charter school in Ohio.

He may be followed on Twitter at His Twitter user name is Legalfight.

The text of his speech follows, each individual bullet point was a separate tweet.

Attorney David L. Engler’s speech delivered on the occasion of the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center’s 2011 Commencement:
• My job 2mrw as Pres of MCCTC bd is 2 offer a few remarks that mean something to 285 18 yr olds…not easy
• If I do it in 20 tweets it is guaranteed to be short and to the point
• Maybe this will be the first grad speech given entirely in tweets…it will not be the last.
• R grads are given an opportunity to use the best technology available 2 help them learn mechanics, health care, law, trades & multi media
• We hope the tools delivered by teachers make u leaders whether it’s college, military, fixing a car, caring 4 people or wiring a bldg
• Your world will be shaped by social media and the ability to quickly get exactly the information u want when u need it.
• Tweets, FB friends, angry birds, YouTube, and texting more than u talk isn’t a fad but the future. Those who master these tools will excel.
• Don’t text while u drive , it is at least as dangerous as drinking while driving
• As we grow more connected by the electrons we move learn all our actions virtual or real have consequences
• I have represented people accused of murder because of My Space and have seen marriages end because of Facebook.
• Words sting even more after hitting the send button. Live with humility but strive to be extraordinary
• Never tweet pictures of yourself in underwear …it’s always a bad idea. Employers and your future wife might not be so keen to see you.
• U r born in remarkable times. There’s a fine line between success & failure. Ignore the barrage of messages u get thru media. Its not real.
• Do listen 2 your parents and grandparents. Time grants wisdom learned through failure and triumph. Do as I say & not as I do
• Never fail to take an extra trip from the car to house. You’ll be happy when you don’t break things.
• The ability to tweet and FB came about because people need to connect.
• Teach grandma to FB. When you continue to socialize u continue to thrive.
• most important lesson learned in 10 years on board is that students don’t fail… we fail the students. We can do better.
• We need to be more transparent in everything we do. We cannot be harmed by truthful data. Our students r watching
• I said 20 and meant it. We r proud of u. Go be extraordinary, do good, hug the people you love and connect everything.

For further information please contact Attorney David L. Engler directly at 330-402-9290 or by email at

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777 Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

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