Medicaid Look-Back Period Law and Legal Definition

The look-back period is the time preceding the person's application for Medicaid during which asset transfers will be scrutinized. A transfer within the look-back period will be questioned and, if something of equal value was not received in return, a penalty will be applied, which will prevent the person from receiving Medicaid long-term care benefits until that penalty period expires. The look-back period is 60 months or 5 years for transfers under the Deficit Reduction Act 2005. In states that have not yet implemented the DRA, it may be only 36 months for transfers (except if funds are transferred to a trust).

There are very strict rules prohibiting the transfer of assets to become eligible for Medicaid benefits. The law imposes criminal sanctions on people who recommend the transfer of assets to become eligible for Medicaid. Interspousal transfers are not considered transfers so there are no penalties for transferring assets between husband and wife.