By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann Wright, a Freehold, NJ Medicaid Attorney
New Jersey is aggressively filing liens against the estates of deceased beneficiaries. They are doing this to recover funds spent for Nursing Home and other Medicaid healthcare benefit costs paid out during the lifetime of the eligible recipient. What do you do if you receive a notice of lien OR receive a bill for benefits paid and a claim is being made against the Estate of a community spouse OR non-related beneficiary?
The answer is…you appeal.
There are two methods to appeal a lien filed against a decedent’s property by the Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services. The first method is through the Department itself, with the appeal then being assigned to a judge in the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) through a fair hearing. Under this procedure, as outlined in N.J.A.C. § 10:49-14.1 (h)(3), the estate has 20 days from the “date of receipt of the notice to file a request for a waiver or compromise of the Division’s claim based upon undue hardship.” Upon receipt of the request, the Division then has 45 days to render a decision in writing. If the estate wishes to contest the decision, a written request to OAL must be made within 20 days for a fair hearing. Once an ALJ renders a decision, the estate may appeal a final decision to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. The Notice of Appeal must be filed within forty-five days of the date of the final decision.
The second method to appeal a lien is by filing a case in Superior Court naming the Department as a defendant under N.J.S.A. § 30:4D-7.8. Unlike the administrative procedure, the Superior Court method only requires that the estate claim that it wishes to “examine the validity [of the lien] thereof or the facts and circumstances surrounding the entry [of the lien] thereof.” The court will proceed in a summary manner and enter appropriate judgment. And unlike the strict 20 day limit of the Division, the statute does not give a strict time limit to file the action. Since it is a lien, outside sources consider it to be a judgement, and under §2A:1405, the statute of limitations is 20 years to file for a claim.
To discuss your NJ Medicaid estate recovery appeal matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.