Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tax Deductibility of Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums

Qualified long-term care insurance policies receive special tax treatment. To be "qualified," policies must adhere to regulations established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Among the requirements are that the policy must offer the consumer the options of "inflation" and "nonforfeiture" protection, although the consumer can choose not to purchase these features.
The policies must also offer both activities of daily living (ADL) and cognitive impairment triggers, but may not offer a medical necessity trigger. "Triggers" are conditions that must be present for a policy to be activated. Under the ADL trigger, benefits may begin only when the beneficiary needs assistance with at least two of six ADLs. The ADLs are: eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing or continence. In addition, a licensed health care practitioner must certify that the need for assistance with the ADLs is reasonably expected to continue for at least 90 days. Under a cognitive impairment trigger, coverage begins when the individual has been certified to require substantial supervision to protect him or her from threats to health and safety due to cognitive impairment.

Policies purchased before January 1, 1997, are grandfathered and treated as "qualified" as long as they have been approved by the insurance commissioner of the state in which they are sold. Most individual policies must receive approval from the insurance commission in the state in which they are sold, while most group policies do not require this approval. To determine whether a particular policy will be grandfathered, policyholders should check with their insurance broker or with their state's insurance commission.

Premiums for "qualified" long-term care policies will be treated as a medical expense and will be deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses (including "Medigap" insurance premiums), exceed 7.5 percent of the insured's adjusted gross income. If you are self-employed, the rules are a little different. You can take the amount of the premium as a deduction as long as you made a net profit--your medical expenses do not have to exceed 7.5 percent of your income.

The deductibility of premiums is limited by the age of the taxpayer at the end of the year, as follows (the limits will be adjusted annually with inflation):

Age attained before the
end of the taxable year
Amount allowed as a medical expense in
2011 2012
40 or under $340 $350
41-50 $640 $660
51-60 $1,270 $1,310
61-70 $3,390 $3,500
71 or older $4,240 $4,370


If you need assistance with Medicaid Planning, Estate Planning or other elder law matters call the offices of Fabisch Law, L.L.C. to set up a consultation with Rhode Island Elder Law Attorney Matthew Fabisch at 401-324-9344.