Schedule a Consultation

The Medicaid 5 Year Look Back Period Explained | Illinois Medicaid Planning

Updated on
November 1, 2019
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Medicaid is a government program intended to pay for long-term care once an individual's assets have been depleted.  Elderly individuals who anticipate the need for institutional or in-home long term care may seek to transfer their assets to loved ones prior to applying to Medicaid in order to qualify for Medicaid and avoid having those assets depleted in the course of their long-term care.  

‍However, there is a five-year "look back" period that allows the state to review transfers made 5 years prior to the date that you apply for Medicaid benefits.  If an improper transfer of assets was made during this period, a "penalty period" is imposed during which your eligibility for Medicaid will be delayed.  The length of the "penalty period" depends on the amount of the transfer.  Certain types of transfers are exempt from the "look back" period, and will not delay your eligibility from Medicaid.

‍If you fail to disclose non-exempt transfers when you apply for Medicaid, you may be subject to criminal and civil penalties for Medicaid fraud.  In addition, the person to whom you transferred the assets may be required to pay a penalty equal to the amount of Medicaid benefits received by the transferor, not to exceed the amount of the transfer.  

‍If you foresee the need for long-term care, meeting with an attorney for Medicaid Planning may allow you to transfer assets to your loved ones without incurring a "penalty period."  This planning can be effective within the 5 year "look back" period.  However, it is advisable to begin your planning at least 5 years prior to the need for long-term care, because your options will be significantly limited once that 5 year window begins.  

‍If you believe that you have made or received a fraudulent transfer, you should consult with an attorney immediately in order to help you "cure" or undo the transfer in order to avoid civil and criminal penalties.   

The Medicaid 5 Year Look Back Period Explained | Illinois Medicaid Planning
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

By Appointment

Mon - Fri

after 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone, Zoom Call, or in person at any of our office locations in:

Our attorneys have experience in:

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Who We are

We are your community law firm. Our Iowa & Illinois Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation specific to your legal situation.