What is the "Look-Back" Period for Medical Assistance (Medicaid)?

Many people need the help of Medical Assistance (as Medicaid is called in Wisconsin), to pay for nursing home care for a loved one, as few people have the resources to pay out-of-pocket for such expensive care for very long. There are asset and income limits that must be met in order to qualify for Medical Assistance benefits. Some people transfer money or assets away to adult children or other loved ones in an effort to keep from needing to "spend down" assets to qualify for Medical Assistance.

To prevent what the government considers fraudulent transfers, there is a five year "look-back" from the time of an application for benefits. Any transfers of assets in that time for less than their fair market value (such as deeding your house to your adult child for a dollar) are suspect and may result in the delay or denial of benefits. To safeguard benefits without running afoul of the look-back period, consult an experienced elder law attorney.