Glossary of terms

*Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys focus on the legal needs of the elderly, and work with a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client. Many elder law attorneys also work on behalf of disabled clients under 65 years of age who have long term care needs similar to those of the elderly.

The elder law practitioner handles general estate planning issues and counsels clients about planning for incapacity with alternative decision making documents, such as powers of attorney and health care proxies. The attorney also assists the elderly or younger disabled client in planning for possible long term care needs, including nursing home care, home care and day care. Locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating private and public resources to finance the cost of care, and working to ensure the client’s right to quality care, are all part of this specific practice.

*Source: Defining the Role of the Elder Law Attorney


Medicare is health insurance for:

• People 65 or older
• People under 65 with certain disabilities
• People of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant)

Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps cover:
• Inpatient care in hospitals
• Skilled nursing facility (SNF) care
• Hospice care
• Home health care

Usually, you don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A coverage if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working. This is sometimes called premium-free Part A. If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Part A, you may be able to buy Part A, and pay a premium.

Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover:

• Services from doctors and other health care providers
• Outpatient care
• Home health care
• Durable medical equipment (DME)
• Some preventive services

Most people pay the standard monthly Part B premium.
Note: You may want to get coverage that fills gaps in Original Medicare coverage.
You can choose to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy from a private company.

Part C (Medicare Advantage):

• Includes all benefits and services covered under Parts A and B
• Usually includes Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) as part of the plan
• Run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies
• May include extra benefits and services for an extra cost

Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage):

• Helps cover the cost of prescription drugs
• Run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies
• May help lower your prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future
Note: If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help paying for your health care and prescription drug costs. For more information, visit, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or contact your local State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office.


Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid may also cover services not normally covered by Medicare (like long term supports and services and personal care services). Each state has different rules about eligibility and applying for Medicaid. If you qualify for Medicaid in your state, you automatically qualify for Extra Help paying your Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).
You may be eligible for Medicaid if you have limited income and are any of these:

• 65 or older
• A child under 19
• Pregnant
• Living with a disability
• A parent or adult caring for a child
• An adult without dependent children (in certain states)
• An eligible immigrant

In many states, more parents and other adults can get coverage now. If you were turned down in the past, you can try again and may qualify now. When you enroll, you can get the health care benefits you need, like:

• Doctor visits
• Hospital stays
• Long-term services and supports
• Preventive care, including immunizations, mammograms, colonoscopies, and other needed care
• Prenatal and maternity care
• Mental health care
• Necessary medications
• Vision and dental care (for children)

You should apply for Medicaid if you or someone in your family needs health care. If you aren’t sure whether you qualify, a qualified caseworker in your state can look at your situation. Contact your local or state Medicaid office to see if you qualify and to apply. To get information about your state’s Medicaid program, visit

*Medicaid spend down
Even if your income exceeds Medicaid income levels in your state, you may be eligible under Medicaid spend down rules. Under the “spend down” process, some states allow you to become eligible for Medicaid as “medically needy,” even if you have too much income to qualify. This process allows you to “spend down,” or subtract, your medical expenses from your income to become eligible for Medicaid.
To be eligible as “medically needy,” your measurable resources also have to be under the resource amount allowed in your state. Call your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and learn how to apply.

*Source: Medicaid