What Are Our Obligations to Pay for Our Parent's Nursing Home Bills?

As parents age, there may come a time when they need to stay in a long-term care facility for several months or more. Parental-support laws, also known as filial support, are on the books in over half of U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Alaska is a filial support law state. Under certain circumstances, when an elderly patient is unable to pay their nursing home–related bills, their children may be on the hook.

What are Parent Support Laws?

Filial responsibility laws are rarely enforced, but with the coming baby-boomer retirement wave and extended life expectancies, anything is possible, as nursing homes seek ways to recoup some of the costs they are owed. Most senior citizens who can’t pay their nursing home bills are eligible for federal assistance from Medicaid. Federal law prohibits the pursuit of payment from adult children in these cases. 

Medicare may cover nursing home expenses in some scenarios, but only for a maximum of 100 days. At that point, if a resident does not have long-term care insurance, they will have to deplete their own financial resources until they are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid coverage can be retroactive for up to three months from the time of application. It’s the gap in private resources and eligibility for Medicaid coverage where medical bills can skyrocket—and render adult children in filial support states more vulnerable to nursing home lawsuits. A child’s ability to pay is taken into account in all circumstances.

Alaska's law in statute 25.20.030 states the following regarding filial support (child-parent support):

1.Each parent is bound to maintain the parent's children when poor and unable to work for themselves.

2. Each child is bound to maintain the child's parents in like circumstances.

There is not a lot of case law on this statute in Alaska, but the law exists.  As baby boomers become older, it may become an issue that is litigated more and more in Alaska.

Seek the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney when a parent enters a nursing facility, not when they are about to run out of money. He or she can help you plan, file applications, and successfully navigate the filial responsibility landscape.

An Experienced Nursing Home Attorney Can Help

In Alaska, nursing home abuse victims can rely on attorney Ben Crittenden to help. As a personal injury lawyer, Ben has worked hard to make sure his clients’ voices are heard and they are able to obtain the maximum amount of compensation. Every victim deserves the chance to recover as fully as possible, and Ben is here to help you meet that goal. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries while in a nursing home, take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about your rights.

Ben Crittenden
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Devoted to advancing his trial techniques and communication skills on behalf of injured victims in Anchorage.
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