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Former bounty hunter faces housing conundrum

For one 53-year-old former bounty hunter, it is easier to talk about the past than the future. He can tell stories from his 26-year career that spans 47 states, chasing people as petty as bad check writers and as dangerous as rapists.

It is the future, however, that troubles him, and which can seem all-too-familiar to too many Georgia residents. After 41 car accidents, he is disabled and no longer able to work. His back injuries alone have required many medical procedures, including three titanium cages in his lower back, four disks and two fusions. He takes a slew of medication for pain, anxiety, blood pressure, diabetes and acid reflux. He receives injections for the pain in his shoulders and attends anger management classes to help him control the emotions that his pain causes.

The man currently lives in an $86,000 home that he bought from his father and wants to hand down to his three children. However, once he turns 55, Medicaid will put a lien on the home in order to recoup taxpayer costs.

Lawyers who are familiar with the case have said that the man is in a precarious situation. Usually, those who need Medicaid have few assets, so the government has no chance to recoup costs. However, when a recipient does have some assets, Medicaid takes the opportunity. His options are few, but none of them are satisfactory. Between the Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Disability benefits that he receives, he still only has $100 a month left over after expenses are paid.

He could give the property to his children, but then tax laws go into effect and Medicaid has a look-back period of five years, where they look at the costs of gifts and deducts them from service costs. The option that he is most considering is just going off Medicaid and relying on Medicare, but that is a gamble he is certain he will lose.

But despite all this, the man is able to keep his home because of the crucial Social Security Disability benefits he receives, among others. This is the point of the benefits: to help people who cannot work and provide for themselves the ability to keep a roof over their head.

Source: Coeur d'Alene Press, "Bumps in the road," Tom Hasslinger, Dec. 11, 2011

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