This is the Frequently Asked Questions page for the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC
We hope that you find some of the answers you are looking for. If not, review our Blog postings, or call us directly! There is nothing more helpful than speaking to a live person!
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The following sections group questions and answers together:
Frequently Asked Questions – Medicaid
My parent is about to enter a nursing home. Can The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC help me?
Yes, we can! The primary benefit to working with us is that we can help you and your family plan properly to protect and preserve assets so that all of your loved one’s money is not spent on the nursing home. There is a different way to pay for the nursing home, and we can show you what it is. Caring for a loved one should not cost a lifetime of savings.
Can The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC help save us money?
With proper planning, we can help your loved one qualify for Medicaid and protect and preserve their life savings. We help save the assets through a variety of strategies that may include gifting, purchasing annuities, life insurance, tax and estate planning, and many other options that enable qualification for Medicaid while still saving the assets. We also consider other options, and whether strategies for Medicaid can be supplemented with VA benefits.
Won’t the help of The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC be too expensive?
Not at all. The first consultation is minimal (credited toward work), and the total legal fee will be only a small fraction of the money we can save your family. As a point of reference, the typical cost of one month’s payment to the nursing home will cover the full payment of our fees. In exchange, the savings will be tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the level of assets and the cost of care.
Will doing this planning affect the level of care my loved one will receive?
In North Carolina nursing homes that accept both Medicaid patients and private-pay patients, the level of care is identical for all residents who receive skilled nursing. The key difference is how much it is going to cost the resident and their family. By doing the proper planning with The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC, you can save money.
Will it really work?
Yes. The government has issued a very complex set of laws, rules, regulations and procedures that specifically allow for this type of planning, but only if it is done correctly. These laws are constantly changing, and we keep abreast of every change in the law as soon as it happens. We have successfully helped families qualify people for Medicaid benefits, while protecting their life savings.
It will work for you, if you work with us.
How much of the assets can be saved?
Typically, for an individual without a spouse, we can usually save 50% to 75% of the assets, perhaps more, depending on a variety of factors, including how far ahead the planning was started. For a married couple with one spouse entering (or already in) a nursing home and the other spouse still living in the community, we usually can save a significant amount, depending on the value of assets as of the date the first spouse entered custodial care.
What if we need help finding a nursing home?
We can help with that too. We have many contacts in the industry that can help you locate the perfect facility. We also can direct you to geriatric care managers, financial planners, social workers, accountants, and many other professionals who devote their careers, like we do, to helping seniors and family members of seniors. Plus, we have personal experience with many of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area, and we have contacts in most of them that can sometimes help with the process of finding and entering the perfect nursing home for you or your loved one.
How soon should I contact you for help?
The earlier we can start the planning, the more money you can save. You pick up your umbrella when there is a threat of storms… likewise, you should plan before the nursing home storm.
We often see clients who hope their problems will go away. If you plan now, before your loved one has to enter a nursing home, then you not only give yourself peace of mind so that you are prepared, but you also can maximize your savings. Above all, do not put off dealing with the issue until it is too late. Procrastination is the greatest threat to the future and security of our loved ones.
My parent is already in a nursing home. Is it too late for us?
Not at all. It is almost never too late to plan, even for those already in a home. However, the earlier you begin planning with The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions – VA Benefits
Many of these questions come from Military.com … click here to go there.
What is “Service Connected Disability” compensation and who qualifies for it?
You may be eligible for compensation if you were wounded, injured or became ill while on active duty in the Armed Forces. Pre-existing injuries or illnesses which were aggravated by military service are also covered. Although most service-connected disabilities show up during or soon after military service, some conditions may not have appeared at all until many years after you got out of the service.
Service Connected Disability is not the same as Veteran’s Pension. See this question for more details about Pension.
How is the amount of disability compensation determined?
The amount of your disability compensation depends on the seriousness of your disability. When you apply for disability compensation, your medical records are reviewed and usually you have a VA medical examination. Your disability is “rated” and expressed as a percentage. The monthly payment you receive is based on this percentage.
If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your disability is over 30%. An allowance for clothing or transportation is available if certain requirements are met.
What is the “Pension” benefit and who qualifies?
A monthly cash benefit is available if you are a wartime veteran with limited income and a permanent and total disability. The disability does not have to be service-connected but it cannot be the result of your willful misconduct. Age is considered a qualifying disability.
Low income does not necessarily mean “Poor” because the VA determines your income as a net of your total household income after deducting total unreimbursed medical costs. The VA also considers your total assets and whether what you own is sufficient for your care. It is a complicated measurement, so we advise that you always consult an attorney accredited with the VA.
How is the amount of pension benefit determined?
The pension is based on need. You must be financially needy as determined by your current income, your savings, and other assets. The amount of your pension will depend on your level of income and number of dependents. The benefit amounts may be reduced if you currently have income including any Social Security benefits. The benefit may be higher if you reside in a nursing home, require someone’s regular assistance or are permanently homebound. It is a complicated measurement, so we advise that you always consult an attorney accredited with the VA.
Can my survivors receive benefits?
Yes, veterans benefits include what is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Your surviving spouse, children under 18, and in some situations your parents may be eligible for compensation when your death results from either a service-connected disability or non-service connected disability.
How do I apply for veterans benefits?
Assistance in filing applications for benefits from the VA may be obtained through any State Veterans Service Officer. Veterans Service Officers assist veterans, their dependents and widows in filing claims for all federal VA benefits. Locations and phone numbers may be found under “State Government, Veterans Service Officer” in the Yellow Pages of your phone book. The VA also operates a toll-free number for general questions, 1-800-827-1000, or TDD 1-800-829-4833.
Our office also provides a full, in-depth analysis of your options. We call it the Life Pathways Analysis for Veterans. It isn’t just an application process because there are many rules to follow and hoops through which to jump. Sometimes legal documents are required to put a plan into place before you can even consider qualifying for benefits. So, as an Elder Law attorney who understands VA benefits and Medicaid and estate planning … call the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC. Call us today at 919-883-2800.
If my application for benefits is refused, can I appeal?
Like other federal benefits programs, decisions of the Veterans Administration concerning benefit eligibility can be appealed. Your initial step is to file a “Notice of Disagreement” form. These forms are available from the VA office. They also provide a brochure which outlines the appeals procedure. You may also want to contact our office for assistance.
How much benefit can I receive?
The amount available for benefits differs for every case. The VA posts rate tables that indicate the maximum awards, but many are reduced for various reasons. We advise that you contact us for assistance in understanding your options. Call the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC today at 919-883-2800.
Elder Law and Estate Planning
What is Elder Law?
Elder law is an evolving area of law which focuses on the issues that we encounter as we age.
Rather than being defined by a particular type of legal work, Elder Law is defined by the needs of the elderly and the disabled. But Elder Law is not only important for older or disabled adults: individuals of all ages can and should engage in planning to ensure that their assets are protected and that their wishes are respected, both during life and after death.
Elder Law covers many different areas of planning and law:
- Estate Planning (Wills & Trusts)
- Charitable Giving
- Advance Health Care Directives
- Powers of Attorney o Guardianships
- Long-Term Care Planning
- Medicaid Planning
- VA Benefits Planning
- Special Needs Trusts
- Probate Administration
General Questions and other references
Why is Doug Koenig different from other attorneys?
Doug Koenig is an Elder Law attorney. That means he, and his staff, focus on the needs of seniors and their families. Whether it is estate planning, veteran’s benefits, special needs, or Medicaid, the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig have the focus and attention required to assist you. Look for an Elder Law attorney whenever you have issues with the legal dimension of aging.
Can the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC help me with other issues?
The attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC have experience and expertise helping seniors and their family members, as well as those who want to plan for the days when they become seniors. In addition to Medicaid and other long-term care planning, The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC helps clients with trusts, wills, powers of attorney, special needs, and Veteran benefits.
If you have an issue or concern that we do not handle, we will help you find another attorney who does. For a full listing of all of our services, click here.
What other information is important for clients and prospective clients of The Law Offices of Douglas E. Koenig, PLLC to know?
We’ve assembled a wide variety of useful resources to help guide you, including articles, FAQs and links that offer information on elder law, estate planning and many other topics. Please review our web site at Doug Koenig Law.