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An estimated one out of five of us infected with covid develop long covid. It is difficult to tell whether or when the symptoms will wane or whether they will wax and wane; whether or when new symptoms will emerge and how they will affect us. You may be uncertain whether to apply for Social Security or other benefits or how they work. You may be uncertain how to protect your income and assets and still receive home health care benefits.

Long Covid: Financial Help

If long covid is expected to last at least a year and it keeps you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. For people who have paid into Social Security through 10 years of payroll deductions, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) is available. This is like taking your Social Security retirement benefits early. If not, or if the SSDI benefit amount is less than the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) amount for that year ($841 per month in 2022), you are also eligible for enough SSI to bring your benefit up to the SSI benefit amount.

In Texas, even one dollar of SSI automatically comes with Medicaid (long-term care benefits).

Disabled people who are under 65 can receive Medicare (health care benefits) after receiving SSDI for two years. They may be eligible for Medicaid in the meantime.

Medicare has home health benefits for someone who needs regularly scheduled care by a nurse, physical therapist or speech and language therapist. People who do can also receive visits from an occupational therapist and a certified nurse’s assistant.

Depending on your level of income, Medicaid may pay your Medicaid premium and possibly your co-pays and deductibles. It may also provide extra help with your prescription costs.

Texas Medicaid has three home health programs: Community Attendant Services, Community Care for the Aged and Disabled, and Star Plus. None of these will affect retired minimum withdrawals from your IRA or 401k, ownership of your home or anything you may receive from a reverse mortgage. If, in addition to these, your income exceeds $2,523 (2022), you must flow it through a Qualified Income Trust (sometimes called a Miller trust) and, after paying medical costs, may have a co-pay to the Medicaid home health managed care company. If you have financial assets in addition to your IRA or 401k, you may have to convert them to a Medicaid-approved annuity or take other steps to financially qualify for Medicaid home health. For most people, this is less expensive than paying for home health out-of-pocket.

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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