What is the Medicaid look-back period?
January 2, 2012
An applicant for Medicaid must report transfers of assets made in the five years (60 months) prior to applying.
This period of time is called the “look-back” period. Here are the basics of how it works in Pennsylvania.
When is it? In most cases, it’s the 60 months prior to making a Medicaid application. In Pennsylvania, caseworkers go by the date when the applicant signed the application.
Was the look-back period always 5 years? No. The look-back period used to be only 36 months for transfers made to an individual. Under the federal Deficit Reduction Act, adopted in February of 2006, the look-back period for such transfers gradually increased to 60 months between February 2009 and February 2011. For transfers made to a trust, the look-back period has long been 60 months.
What has to be reported? Pennsylvania’s current Medicaid application for long term care contains the following questions:
Within the past 60 months, have you or your spouse closed, given away, sold or transferred any assets such as: a home, land, personal property, life insurance policies, annuities, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, IRA, bonds or a right to income?
Within the past 60 months, have you or your spouse transferred any assets into a trust?
If yes to either question, explain circumstances…
Note that the law requires disclosure of transfers made by the applicant or his or her spouse.
Does every transfer during the look-back period make me ineligible? No. Whether you will be ineligible for benefits depends on a number of things such as the amount of the transfer and to whom it was made. We will explore this issue in more detail in a future blog post.