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Do I need an Attorney to apply for Medicaid?

Do I need an Attorney to apply for Medicaid benefits?

In a word, “NO!” Let me use two words, “Absolutely Not!”

Let me say it yet another way; In Arizona, there are no restrictions or rules that prevent a non-lawyer from helping with the ALTCS application and planning process.

Also, no moratorium in the federal law prohibits a non-attorney from assisting in the Medicaid Planning (ALTCS Planning) or Application process.

Arizona Rules

Further, because of the consistent stance, the Arizona State legislature has taken with the legal profession, I seriously doubt any such rule that prohibits a non-attorney from assisting with the Medicaid application process will be passed here in Arizona.

I say this because, in Arizona, you can go to a Legal Document Preparer to have a trust and other legal documents prepared. An Attorney does not even supervise a Legal Document Preparer.

Additionally, in Arizona, a new law passed in 2020 will allow non-attorney to practice law and even represent a client in court. The new legal professional is called Legal Paraprofessionals, or LP.

Compare a Legal Paraprofessionals or LP to a Physician Assistant or PA at your doctor’s office. A PA does much of what a doctor can do but at a much lower cost than a doctor.

The rules and requirements for the Legal Paraprofessional are still developing, but the law is on the books.

Should you seek help with the ALTCS Application Process?

A different question than, “Can only attorneys help with the ALTCS Planning and ALTCS application process?”

Or “Do I need a lawyer to apply for ALTCS Arizona Medicaid benefits?”

The entire Arizona Medicaid application process may be overwhelming to many. Because of this, you may want to consider having someone assist with the process.

Still, lawyers are not the only group of professionals you can seek for assistance with ALTCS planning.  

A few laypeople have a basic knowledge of the process and may be able to help you. But many of these do not have a suffocated knowledge of the ALTCS Arizona Medicaid application process.

One great example of a layperson helping an ALTCS applicant is the social worker at the rehab or hospital. They often start a claim for someone in the rehab facility they work.

This can cause needless delays because the social worker does not have detailed knowledge of the person’s financial situation.  

Here is another example of a layperson helping with the ALTCS Application Process; This week, I talked to a licensed Fiduciary about one of her clients. An attorney had set up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, and she was hired as the disinterested trustee.

Unfortunately, the trust probably was a mistake because the client’s spouse was already showing signs of dementia when the trust was established. There was little chance that the trust would make it through the “5-year lookback period.”

The assets transferred to the trust would be considered a transfer of an asset without compensation.

I called the Fiduciary to discuss options to move assets back out of the trust so our mutual client’s spouse could be approved for ALTCS.

I explained that we need the assets transferred back to the client then we can use available asset conversion strategies to re-accumulate the assets back into the healthy spouse’s name once his spouse is approved for ALTCS.

She blurted out, “I help clients with ALTCS, and you can’t do that. They will be over the asset limit!”

I didn’t want to educate her on several detailed parts of the law used here. I just said, “No, they won’t.”  

You see, once on ALTCS, the non-institutional spouse can accumulate assets once the spouse needing care is approved; she apparently was unaware of that.

The asset limit of $2,000 only applies to the spouse needing care, not the non-institutional spouse.

There are several problems here, but the biggest one is the “Fiduciary” putting herself out as an ALTCS expert.

So now it is back to the lawyer that set up the trust for ALTCS Arizona Medicaid, planning to terminate the trust, so the spouse needing care will qualify for ALTCS. 

Funny thing, the assets that were transferred are naturally exempt that were placed in the trust, that too didn’t make any sense.

Lastly, there are non-certified ALTCS planners and agencies that advertise ALTCS planning. They may be able to help, but why chance it?

What is the alternative to laypeople with basic ALTCS application processing knowledge, non-certified ALTCS planners, or a lawyer who charges up to $15,000 or more for an application?

A Certified Medicaid Planner™ may be the answer. A Certified Medicaid Planner™ or effectively a Certified ALTCS Planner has met the following requirements:

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Pass the CMP™ certification exam
  • Meet Continuing Education requirements for Medicaid
  • Maintain CMP™ Ethical Principles

A Certified Medicaid Planner™ is typically a third or even a quarter of the cost of a lawyer.   

You should know that the same ALTCS Planning strategies many attorneys use are the same that a Certified Medicaid Planner™ uses.

Noteworthy, there are attorneys throughout the United States that hold the Certified Medicaid Planner™ designation, too.

 Do you even need help? Why not file on your own?

Let’s explore why you may want to seek help with the ALTCS Arizona Medicaid application process.

To qualify for ALTCS, you must be both Medically and Financially qualified.

Preparing for the ALTCS medical qualification process may be one reason to hire a Certified Medicaid Planner™. The ALTCS medical qualification process may be as important as preparing for the financial qualifications.

ALTCS, Arizona Medicaid uses the “PreAdmission Screening” or “PAS” assessment to determine if you are medically qualified.

The assessment is currently conducted over the phone. The way you answer the questions and who is participating in the evaluation can make or break the case.

Here is where an experienced ALTCS Arizona Medicaid Planner or Certified Medicaid Planner™ can help.

I have participated in the PAS process hundreds of times and know what questions will be asked and how. I am able to coach my clients before the assessment to achieve the best possible outcome.

How about the ALTCS Arizona Medicaid financial qualifications? When should you seek professional help?

  1. If your income is above $2,523 per month or the household income is above $5,046 per month, you will need to have an Income Only Trust or Arizona Miller Trust to qualify.

The Arizona Miller Trust is a legal document that needs to be prepared by an attorney or legal document preparer.

Cecilia Dabbs, CMP™, is a Certified Medicaid Planner™ and a Certified Document Preparer. She provides the document at half the cost of most attorneys.

Steve Dabbs, CMP™,  provides lifetime support to the income-only trust trustee so that the trustee does not make an administrative error at no additional charge.

  1. If you have assets above the limits, a Certified Medicaid Planner™ can help by developing strategies that convert the countable assets to non-countable ones.

There are over a dozen ways to legally convert assets that must be counted to assets that are exempt.

  1. Avoid or minimize estate recovery.

The state of Arizona AHCCCS will try to recover from a person’s estate after they pass. With proper planning, this can be avoided.

Without planning, the benefits paid by ALTCS become nothing more than an interest-free loan.

  1. Help determine if the use of a Medicaid Compliant Annuity is a bright, safe, and vital planning tool.

Using a Medicaid Compliant Annuity can make a lot of sense for some. But they can be a big mistake for others.

This is determined by what type of assets someone owns and the cost to convert the asset to cash to purchase the annuity.

Here is where a competent planner can help. They will analyze your case and help to determine if buying a  is a Medicaid Compliant Annuity bright idea.

Here again, the CMP™s at Care Funding Solutions has over 20 years of experience in providing the Medicaid Compliant Annuity to planners all over the United States.

Steve Dabbs, CMP™ is an annuity product trainer and mentor for agents that use this type of annuity contract.

He is also an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, and as a fiduciary, he must do what is in the best interest of his clients.

If it is not the right strategy for your situation, he will say so.

  1. Help to identify any gifts that may have been made and determine the potential period of ineligibility.

You must report any gifts made during the past five years. But what if you do not know or don’t remember?

The ALTCS Asset Verification System or AVS can identify the beginning and ending balances. Then they will ask for clarification on what the withdrawal was used.

The main thing here is not to hide illegal assets that can cause severe penalties.

  1. Help to get an application approved quickly maximum benefits for ALTCS.
  2. Calculate an estimated CSRD, the Community Spouse Resouce Deduction.

Knowing the approximate CSRD before you apply is extremely important. A Certified Medicaid Planner can do precisely that.

It will allow you to preserve the maximum amount of assets possible.

  1. Assist in the confusing ALTCS Process.

A Certified Medicaid Planner assists throughout the application process so that you can sit back and not worry about being approved.

And suppose your ALTCS claim is denied either medically or financially. In that case, they will help correct the reason for denial, reapply or appeal the decision for you, and represent you in the appeal or fair hearing if necessary. You are getting an answer about your question “Do I need an Attorney to apply for Medicaid”.

Can I apply for ALTCS Arizona Medicaid benefits on my own?

In a word, Yes.

But keep in mind that 79% of the ALTCS applicants that apply on their own are not approved.

Choosing an ALTCS Arizona Medicaid Planning Professional.

In the article, I have already pointed out that it is smart to hire a Certified Medicaid Planner™.

So when choosing a Certified Medicaid Planner™, you should also seek one that is also a Fiduciary.

Lawyers are by-law fiduciaries, so a CMP™ that is also an attorney is a safe choice. The problem with using an attorney, as already mentioned, is they charge high fees for their services. 

Steve Dabbs, CMP™, is one of a handful of non-attorneys that hold the Certified Medicaid Planner designation that is also fiduciary, so he has the same duty as an attorney. 

Why a fiduciary and what are the duties of a fiduciary?

A fiduciary duty is the duty of an agent to treat his principal with the utmost candor, rectitude, care, loyalty, and good faith–in fact, to treat the principal as well as the agent would treat himself. (¹)

(¹) Burdett v. Miller, 957 F.2d 1375 (7th Cir. 1992) (Posner, J.)


Sometimes, it makes sense for individuals to apply on their own, and in a word, “Should!”

This is generally someone who is differently needing the nursing home level of care.

They do not own a home, and their total countable assets are below the limit.

As for the rest of those needing care, it is essential to have a Certified Medicaid Planner on your side. 

Steve Dabbs with her Wife

Steve and Cecilia Dabbs are the “The CMP™ Power Team™” (See Video Here)  

Both are Certified Medicaid Planners™.

Cecilia Dabbs is also an Arizona State Bar Association affiliate member and a Certified Legal Document Preparer.

Steve Dabbs is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ and must do what is in your best interest. He is also a “VA Accredited Claims Agent.”

So if you are a wartime veteran or surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, he can legally help file the VA claim too.

Many Thanks for reading the article about “Do I need an Attorney to apply for Medicaid”.