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Author: Brenton McWilliams

Medicaid Planning: What is the Medicaid lookback period?

When an application for medicaid nursing home benefits is made, medicaid requires the applicant to disclose any gifts made by the applicant during a certain period of time leading up to the application. In Alabama, that period of time is 60 months (5 years). This 60 month period of time is commonly known as the medicaid lookback period. Any gifts or transfers of assets for less than market value made during the lookback period may result in a transfer penalty.

If a transfer penalty is assessed it comes in the form of a delay in medicaid benefits after the applicant is otherwise eligible (a penalty period). In other words, the applicant is eligible for medicaid nursing home benefits, but medicaid will not provide the benefits during the transfer penalty month or months. Alabama Medicaid calculates the transfer penalty period by dividing the total amount of gifts made by the average monthly cost for self pay in a long term care facility in Alabama. As of 2018, that number is $6,100. For example, if $12,200 worth of assets were gifted to family members during the lookback period, those gifts would result in a two month penalty period where medicaid would not provide benefits after the beneficiary has made an application and is otherwise eligible.

For more information about elder law and planning for medicaid nursing home benefit eligibility, please take a look at the elder law page and other articles in the blog.

If you have questions about medicaid eligibility in Alabama, applying for medicaid benefits or you would like to discuss ways to preserve a medicaid applicant’s assets, please call me at (251) 215-9275 or write me on the contact page to discuss how I can help.