Though you may not realize it, there is a very good chance that you will someday need to qualify for benefits offered by the Medicaid program. The reason for this is that unlike most other health insurance plans or policies, Medicaid covers long-term care expenses. If you do suddenly find yourself in need of Medicaid coverage you may wonder “ How soon can I get Medicaid in Illinois? ”
As you may already know, Medicaid is a healthcare program that is funded by the federal government but administered by the individual states. For this reason, the eligibility guidelines as well as the available benefits will vary somewhat from one state to another. In all states, however, including Illinois, an applicant must not have income or assets that exceed the program limits to qualify for benefits. Because the countable resource limit is so low ($2,000 for an individual), many older individuals who are in serious need of benefits are turned down because their resources exceed the program limit. By including Medicaid planning in your estate plan you can avoid this unwanted outcome.
Assuming that you meet all of the eligibility guidelines, including the resource limit, your Medicaid application will typically be reviewed and approved within 45 days in Illinois. In some cases, a Medicaid application is approved even faster. For example, if you are automatically eligible because you are a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, your application may be approved much faster. On the other hand, if your application is missing vital information or supporting documents, it can take longer than 45 days to be reviewed or you may receive an initial denial and need to re-apply.
If you application is eventually approved, medical bills that became due prior to the approval date may still be paid by the Medicaid program. These “retroactive” benefits are not available to all Medicaid recipients. The exact start date of your Medicaid benefits will depend on what category of Medicaid you qualify under and a variety of other factors.
Unfortunately, people often wait until they desperately need Medicaid benefits to consider their eligibility. While there are steps that can be taken at the last minute to help increase your odds of being approved for Medicaid, starting early is always best. If you have questions about Medicaid for the elderly in Illinois, or would like to discuss Medicaid planning, consult with your Illinois estate planning attorney.
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