There are certain things that you kind of have to do on your own, like interviewing for a job or rowing a single kayak. And then there are those things that you maybe can do on your own, but are a whole lot easier with professional help—moving furniture, filing your taxes, selling your home. From my experience of working with clients for several years, I consider applying for MassHealth one of those tasks better navigated with a pro. I’ve seen plenty of Massachusetts residents go through the application process on their own, and I’m sharing a few of the reasons someone may not want to go it alone.
The Application is a Lot
MassHealth provides a variety of benefits, so there are different applications for different groups. The application for seniors and people needing long-term care is more than 40 pages long, though few people will need to fill out every form; the full length includes instructions and a number of supplemental forms that only some applicants use. The questions cover every possible element of your financial history, and you might find yourself doubting whether you understand what they’re looking for.
Someone who’s experienced with helping MassHealth applicants can speed up the process. It might take half the time to complete the application with professional help, compared to muddling through on your own. Plus, making sense of the MassHealth eligibility requirements can be confusing. Meeting those requirements may require professional help from an attorney experienced with applying for MassHealth.
There’s Often Advance Financial Planning Required
For Massachusetts seniors and people who need long-term care, MassHealth can be a blessing and a curse. These benefits allow MassHealth members to get the services they need and wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. But as with other Medicaid programs, MassHealth has strict requirements around financial eligibility.
An applicant will only be approved if their assets are minimal. The program is very clear about how an applicant may and may not achieve financial eligibility; that is, you can’t just transfer your accounts to a family member right before applying. MassHealth looks at the previous five years of an applicant’s financial history.
Ideally, you would consult an attorney years before you anticipate needing MassHealth coverage. Few applicants have this kind of foresight. Working with an attorney with MassHealth experience may still help you prepare at the last minute. Professional guidance is key to becoming eligible and possibly preserving some of your assets for your loved ones to inherit.
Application Mistakes are Costly
It’s very possible for you to complete your MassHealth application on your own and do the entire thing correctly, so that MassHealth doesn’t need to contact you for anything else. But it’s equally possible that you’ll make some minor error, such as failing to check off a box you were supposed to check or neglecting to send a certain supporting document.
Though making a minor oversight won’t get your application denied, MassHealth will pause its review until the application is complete and correct. Weeks may pass before you get notification from the program that it needs more information from you. Then you’ll need to dig out your MassHealth stuff again, submit whatever you’re missing and start the waiting all over again. Ultimately, making a mistake as simple as leaving a certain box blank could add a month or more to your wait for MassHealth coverage.
You May Need Help With Appeals
Even people who are meticulous in preparing their applications are sometimes rejected by MassHealth. The program does have an appeals process that includes appearing before the Board of Hearings. You’re allowed help from a personal representative, and you’re both allowed to review your case file to prepare for the appeal. In the event that you need to appeal MassHealth’s decision, having the help of an attorney already experienced with your application puts you in the best position.
Getting MassHealth Help Prepares You For What’s Next
Applying for MassHealth may get you thinking a lot about what your remaining years will look like. It’s the perfect time to look at your estate plans, or do any estate planning that you haven’t gotten around to yet. Having gathered all the documents you need for MassHealth, an attorney can help you complete the application and cross other estate planning tasks off your to-do list.
These are just a few of the pitfalls people encounter when completing MassHealth applications on their own. At Ladimer Law, we have helped countless clients apply for MassHealth benefits. We’ll walk through the process with you, providing guidance that gives you the best possible shot at getting approved quickly. For help with MassHealth, contact me today.
Julie Ladimer is the award-winning founder of Ladimer Law. She has helped clients apply for MassHealth since 2014.
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