Common Questions

The long-term care system has a language all its own.  Below are answers to questions families often have.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for persons who are in receipt of Social Security Retirement benefits and are 65 years of age or older or who have been in receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for at least 25 months. Medicare also covers individuals of any age who have end-stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD) and need dialysis or kidney transplants. The program has no income or asset eligibility criteria. Medicare in 1996 covered more than 38 million persons, of whom approximately 5 million were disabled under Social Security and approximately 270,000 were ESRD patients.

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is the largest program providing medical and health-related services, including nursing home care, to America's poorest people. It covers approximately 36 million individuals, including children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled, and people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments. Within broad national guidelines that the federal government provides, each of the states:

  • establishes its own eligibility standards;
  • determines the type, amount, duration, and scope of services;
  • sets the rate of payment for services; and
  • administers its own Medicaid program.

What is the Social Security Disability Insurance program?

Social Security disability insurance pays monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work due to a severe illness or impairment that has lasted or is expected to result in death or to last at least 12 months. It is part of the Social Security program that pays benefits to the vast majority of elderly Americans. Benefits are based on the disabled worker's past earnings and are paid to the disabled worker and his or her dependent family members. In order to qualify, a disabled worker must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested federal program that pays monthly benefits to low-income aged, blind and disabled individuals. For adults, it uses the same test of disability as the DI program. (For children, the standard is based on the ability to perform age-appropriate functions.) In order to qualify, the individual must have very low income and limited assets.

What do elder law attorneys do?

Elder law attorneys help their clients and their families deal with issues that confront people due to long life or disability. MORE