Many boomers are struggling to help their kids get through college and even helping them afterwards since it’s tough to get a job, let alone to get one that pays enough to be self-sufficient. And at the same time, boomers have lost some of their retirement benefits and often are way behind in saving for their own retirement. Many are also being called upon to help their parents with long term care illnesses.
And now a recent Pennsylvania case has put the spotlight on another threat to boomers savings and financial security. John Pittas’ mother entered a nursing home for rehabilitation following a car crash. After she left the nursing home, she moved out of the country. His mother’s $93,000 bill at the home was left unpaid. The mom had applied for Medicaid, which would normally pay the bill if she couldn’t. But the mom’s Medicaid application did not get approved in enough time to satisfy the nursing home, and it sued her son for the bill.
Thirty states, including Massachusetts, have seldom-enforced “filial responsibility” laws, requiring children to pay for the need of their indigent parents. These suits are bound to happen more often as states struggle with budget deficits. It’s devastating for boomers in their 60s who are still trying to save for their own retirement needs while trying to help their underemployed children as well as their older parents that they then may be sued to pay for the care of a parent who has outlived her money.
We help families avoid the devastating impact of long term care expenses all the time. With nursing home costs in the eastern Massachusetts area now averaging $150,000 a year, it’s so important for adult children to encourage their parents to sit down with an elder law attorney and carefully review how their assets are set up, and to make a plan for when to apply for Medicaid coverage for the nursing home. It all starts with a frank discussion within the family about how health care will be paid for and who will pay for it.
You can read about the PA case here.