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DSS Admits Mistake: 92-year-old Richmond woman with dementia gets to stay in nursing home

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RICHMOND, Va -- A 92-year-old woman with dementia will maintain her Medicaid benefits that allow her to live in a Richmond nursing home after a CBS 6 story led the Chesapeake Department of Social Services to admit to the woman's daughter they made a mistake.

According to a new letter sent to Shirley Stanley, Chesapeake DSS found that it made a mistake in penalizing her mother, MaeBelle Adams, for selling her home for less than the assessed value.  Chesapeake DSS said in the letter they found documentation that Stanley had submitted back in June 2014 that proved the house had not been able to sell for the assessed value.  Therefore,  Ms. Adams will no longer be penalized and lose her Medicaid payments for the nursing home.

Maebelle Adams had to leave her home in Chesapeake and move into a nursing home in February 2014 after she suffered a debilitating stroke. Shirley Stanley, Adams’ daughter, opted to move her mother to a nursing home in Richmond to be close to Stanely and her children. But, since then, Stanley said it has been a complicated and unnecessary battle to keep her there.

“The whole experience is really dehumanizing, it’s so disrespectful,” Stanley said.

Stanley said the Chesapeake Department of Social Services ordered her to sell Adams’ home within three months, or Adams would lose her long term care.

“This is bullying and forcing her to sell her house within that amount of time, and I’m two hours away, it’s impossible,” Stanley said.

Stanley said she managed to sell the house “as is” with no improvements for $60,000, which is a number she said other houses in similar condition sold for in the neighborhood.

“The house hadn’t had any repairs inside since the early 60s,” Stanley said.

Stanley then said she received a threatening letter which stated her mother would be penalized because the house sold for less than the assessed value, and she would lose her long term care for three months starting on August 31.

“She can’t live with me, I tried…she kept falling and hurting herself,” Stanley said.

WTVR CBS 6 investigative reporter Hipolit asked the Virginia Department of Social Services if they could talk about Ms. Adams’ case, and her daughter even filled out a release form saying that would be perfectly fine, but the state referred Hipolit to the Chesapeake Department of Social Services who told her it would be a misdemeanor to talk about the case.

A spokesperson for Virginia DSS did confirm a person may lose their long term care for a period of time if they sell their home for less than the current tax assessed value.

But added if the person sells it for less than 75 percent of the assessed value, and shows proof that the sale price was the best they could expect to receive, they wouldn’t be penalized. Stanley said the documents she has prove that’s exactly what she did, but to no avail.

“She paid taxes, she worked hard, she deserves to be in long term care,” Stanley said about her mother.

Now, Stanley said she is at her wits end fighting what seems to be a losing battle for her elderly mother.

“What does that look like in the real world? The word discharge, for somebody who is 92? What do we do?  Take her little belongings that are in her private room and set them out on the street for other people who don’t pay rent?” Stanley wondered.

Stanley said Adams now has to spend the proceeds from the sale of her home to pay for her nursing home stay, and once that runs out, Adams will reapply for Medicaid coverage.

Stanley said she was told that Adams will “probably” qualify again for long term care coverage, and thus she will not have to leave her nursing home.