Articles Posted in Public Benefits

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Appellant James Corn appealed a circuit court order denying his petition to establish a special-needs trust pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1396p(d)(4)(A). Corn was disabled because of a head injury from which he suffered short-term memory loss. Because of the severity of his injury, he received Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Corn’s eligibility made him automatically eligible for Medicaid. However, SSI had an asset test which stated that Corn would become ineligible if he were to have assets of more than $2,000. Because of this, Corn’s partner, Ms. Yelvington, now deceased, established a special-needs trust for him. Yelvington also designated Corn as a beneficiary on life insurance policies and her bank accounts. There was approximately $260,000 that was not transferred into the special-needs trust created by Yelvington, and because Corn was designated as the beneficiary on these assets they would pass directly to Corn upon Yelvington’s death. Because these assets would be passing directly to Corn rather than through a special-needs trust, Corn would be ineligible to receive SSI benefits. In order to prevent this, Corn attempted to create a "D4A" trust. At the time of the circuit court hearing, Yelvington had passed away and her estate was in probate. Corn had not yet received any funds from her estate or from her beneficiary designations. In its order denying Corn’s motion for reconsideration, the circuit court found that the establishment of the trust would be against Arkansas public policy and that there was insufficient evidence presented to support that a special-needs trust should be established. The Supreme Court found that through his testimony at the hearing and by attaching letters from the Social Security Administration to his motion for reconsideration, Corn provided the circuit court with sufficient evidence of his disability. Therefore, the Court held that the circuit court erred in finding that there was insufficient evidence that Corn was disabled. The circuit court’s order was reversed and the case remanded for a determination of whether the proposed D4A trust met the requirements set forth in the statute. View "In re Corn" on Justia Law

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Martha Pierce applied for Medicaid assistance after her husband, Gordon Pierce, was admitted to a long-term-care facility. The Department of Human Services (DHS) included Martha’s IRA and 401(k) retirement accounts in calculating Gordon’s resources for purposes of Medicaid eligibility and denied the application. The circuit court reversed, concluding that DHS should not have counted against Gordon’s Medicaid eligibility the retirement accounts owned by Martha. DHS appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, retirement accounts owned by a community spouse may be countable resources when determining Medicaid eligibility for an institutionalized spouse. Remanded. View " Ark. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Pierce" on Justia Law

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Holline and William Parsons (Plaintiffs) were enrolled in Today's Option, a Medicare Advantage Plan sponsored by the Pyramid Life Insurance Company (Pyramid). After Plaintiffs were each disenrolled from their respective plans, they brought suit against Pyramid, asserting numerous state law claims. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in part declaring that the Medicare Act did not provide the exclusive remedy for Plaintiffs' claims in this case. Pyramid then moved for Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certification and a stay pending appeal, requesting permission to file an interlocutory appeal on the issues of whether Plaintiffs' state-law claims arose under the Medicare Act and whether their claims, to the extent they did not arise under the Act, were expressly preempted by the Act. The circuit court certified this appeal pursuant to Rule 54(b). The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the finding supporting Rule 54(b) certification was in error. View "Pyramid Life Ins. Co. v. Parsons" on Justia Law

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The Second Injury Fund appealed the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) finding that the Fund was not entitled to a statutory offset for Appellee Cleveland Osborn's Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. The Supreme Court found that the Commission made its decision based on the "plain language" of the statute: "the legislature intended for the amount of workers' compensation benefits payable to an injured worker to be reduced 'dollar-for-dollar' by the amount of benefits that the worker has previously received for the same medical services under any of the listed group plans." Veterans Administration benefits are not listed as one of the "group plans" in the statute. The Court found that the Fund was not entitled to the offset.