Think You’re Too Young for LTCI?

CARE MANAGER'S CORNER - Author : Eileen Dunn, MS, CMC, CLTC, Geriatric Care Manager

I received a call from an attorney asking for assistance with a client. The 47-year-old father of two boys, ages 12 and 10, was on a Boy Scout field trip with his younger son to a miniature golf course. He heard a strange noise behind him and when he looked, he saw one of the kids from their group face down in a “water hazard” set up on that hole. The good news is he saved that kids life. The bad news is that as soon as he grabbed the kid, all the electricity that was flowing into the kid began flowing into my client. He is now a quadriplegic, unable to speak and can only communicate through technology on a limited basis, due to his brain damage. They have spent thousands of dollars modifying their home to accommodate his special needs, as his wife wanted desperately to keep him at home. She cut her hours at work and became
his primary caregiver at home.

The caregiving at home worked for about three years until the stress level became unmanageable for the wife. He required extensive care due to the need for a feeding tube and catheters, as well as needing treatment in a hyperbaric chamber three times per week (receiving pure oxygen in a pressurized room). According to his wife, even though there was a substantial liability settlement that provided a special needs trust for the husband, there was now concern about her financial future. Six months prior to his accident he had taken early retirement from the Department of Corrections, after twenty-five years of service, with a life and 50% survivor pension. In addition to his pension, he had now been working full time for a construction company and had been making a very good salary. The spouse had been working full time for the state and planned on retiring in five years after she reached her twenty-five-year mark. Their plan was to live on his income from the new construction job and to bank his pension for their future retirement and to help with the kids’ college expenses. These savings, in addition to what they had already saved, would have provided a very comfortable retirement. They were planning on buying long-term care insurance when he turned fifty. She said, “We were always such good planners, but how do you plan for this?”

If he predeceases her, the balance of the trust will go to her and the children. But, there is a very good chance he will live for several years in the nursing home and possibly even deplete the trust. Since they are currently living on his pension, contrary to their prior plans, she is concerned that if she became disabled, she would need to use all their savings, because they didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate additional savings by banking his pension. Her financial advisor has wisely suggested she purchase a long-term care policy that provides asset protection under the state Partnership program. This gives her the peace of mind that if she requires care, the $400,000 they saved will be protected for her future and the kids’ college education. There is no guarantee that your client will ever need long-term care; but there is also no guarantee that they won’t need it tomorrow.

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