A common question that is asked is “When should I start planning for Medi-Cal? Do I wait until someone is in a nursing home?”
Our answer is always “as soon as possible.”
What people assume is that applying for Medi-Cal is simply filling out a form with basic information then submitting it.
What they don’t know is that there are financial requirements that have to be met for approval. Then there is all of the supporting documentation that has to be included. Gathering this data can be a daunting task especially if someone had Alzheimer’s or dementia.
As an example, we recently completed a case for a married woman who had just entered a nursing home. The problem wasn’t with her documents but with her husband’s. (If you are married when applying, documentation is required for both spouses.)
He couldn’t find his Social Security card. For all of his life he had used his Social Security to file income taxes, get a California Driver’s license, vote and all of the normal things that we do that requires use of a Social Security number.
His son applied for a replacement online but was unable to complete the process.
He took his father down to the local Social Security office to apply for a replacement in person. Unfortunately the clerk told the son that his father’s Social Security number belonged to a woman according to the computer.
Did his father have a valid California driver’s license or Senior ID to prove who he was? A valid U.S. passport was also acceptable.
Being older his father had stopped driving a few years earlier and did not renew his driver’s license. He also did not think about getting a California Senior ID. His passport was also expired.
Long story short, his wife’s Medi-Cal application was held up for approval because he had no valid Social Security number.
So a supposedly simple thing like having a Social Security card turned into a huge problem.
This is why if your spouse, your parent or parents, friend or relative looks like they may be needing long-term care help in the future, it is strongly advised that you start planning as soon as possible. This will prevent undue stress and financial hardship in the future. You never know what little thing may turn into a huge issue.