Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

It’s A Felony to Fudge Facts on a Medicaid Application

The Karp Law Firm attorneys help clients who seek long-term care Medicaid benefits for their loved one. In addition to being distraught about their loved one’s welfare, clients are also unnerved by the prospect of losing their economic security to nursing home costs. Unfortunately, their fear is a realistic one: With an annual cost of about $100,000 for a Florida long-term care facility, the average middle class family will find itself wiped out in no time.

Under such unsettling circumstances and feeling desperate for economic help, some people may be tempted to be less than truthful when applying for Medicaid benefits. That is a mistake! We stress to our clients that all steps our attorneys take on their behalf must be above-board and legal, and that all reporting to Medicaid must be completely honest. Valuations of assets must be accurate; all income from every source must be reported; and any gifts made over the last five years must be revealed.

If anyone, including an attorney, tells you to go ahead and lie to Medicaid because the agency will never find out about the fraud, take our advice: don’t do it. Run the other way, and find a qualified elder law attorney to assist you.


Lying On The Application Is A Felony

Our job as elder law attorneys is to tap into every legal resource that will allow your loved one to become eligible for Medicaid before you have spent down, thus preserving a significant portion of your savings. Note the emphasis on the word legal. Think of our attorneys as you think of your accountant: Of course you want your accountant to employ every legal strategy that enables you to save on taxes; you would not want or expect him/her to falsify your information.

If you fudge facts when seeking Medicaid, you will likely be caught and will face unpleasant consequences. Medicaid requires submission of extensive supporting documentation along with the application. The agency has access to numerous sources of information and databases to check the data you submit, and can quickly discover any subterfuge. The agency’s resources include tax filings, utility bills, property taxes, deeds to property, pension statements, court records, Social Security data, utility bills and much more. Of course, even if you are among the few who are not caught, your actions are still legally and morally wrong.

It is considered a felony to attempt to defraud the State of Florida. If Medicaid determines that you have attempted to defraud the state, you risk a substantial fine, jail time, as well as loss of the very benefits you seek for your loved one. You may also be required to make restitution to the state for any monies expended for your loved one that were based on a fraudulent application.


Consult A Qualified Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney experienced in Medicaid planning will always insist that you accurately report all financial data. Your attorney will not only save you from potential legal trouble, but will also steer you away from the catastrophic financial damage that can result from bad advice. For example, we advised one family that had been told they could secure Medicaid benefits for their father if they cashed in all their father’s qualified plan funds. Did the person qualify for Medicaid? Yes, but the value of the benefits was a mere fraction of the enormous tax bill the family incurred by cashing in the plans. A competent elder law attorney would have warned them against the steps they took.

In order to protect the public from bad advice, in 2015 the State of Florida made it illegal for non-attorneys to provide legal advice with regard to Medicaid. It is perfectly fine for a non-attorney to help you simply prepare an application – for example, a nursing home administrator may help you do that. But only an attorney is permitted to recommend legal strategies that can help to establish Medicaid eligibility. For example, only an attorney is permitted to:

  • Advise you about re-configuring and restructuring assets


  • Advise you about how to “spend down”


  • Provide advice about, and prepare personal service contracts


  • Provide advice about, and prepare qualified income trusts



You can read about the 2015 case here.


Click here to read about current eligibility requirements for Florida long-term care Medicaid benefits. If you have a loved one who will soon need nursing home placement or is already in a nursing home, talk with  our elder law attorneys about securing Medicaid benefits. Call (561) 625-1100 or email us at klf@karplaw.com