1. Is it the majority of their law practice or just one of many things they do?
  2. Are they certified by the VA to process benefits applications?
  3. Have they successfully submitted VA benefits or Medicaid applications in the past? How many?
  4. Do they know the new rules and limits for VA benefits or Medicaid benefits qualification?
  5. Do they really understand the short term and long term effects on gifting, adding names to an account or deed, purchasing annuities, transferring assets?
  6. Do other professionals refer their best clients and their family to them?
  7. Do they have the resources and background to get answers on the tricky or complicated cases?
  8. Do they belong to and participate in elder law organizations so they are completely up to date on the latest law and latest trends?
  9. What do their past clients say about them?
  10. Do they know these topics so well that they teach these topics to other lawyers?
  11. Do they participate in state and national organizations to fight for  the rights of seniors?
  12. Are they willing to listen to you to put the plan you want into place?


  1. At Common Sense Elder Law, 90+ percent of what we do is elder law. That includes everything from basic Powers of Attorneys and Wills and the settling of estates to veteran’s benefits and Medicaid benefits planning. The other 10 percent are litigation or business matters that we find particularly novel or interesting. Even if you have an issue that we do not handle we can refer you to the attorneys that we know are the best in that particular area of law. We have over 25 years of experience to draw and to direct you to the right place.
  2. Both of the attorneys at Common Sense Elder Law are certified by the VA to process benefit applications. By law, an attorney must be now be accredited to submit applications. To maintain their accreditation they have to take continuing legal education specific to veteran’s benefits.
  3. In the calendar year of 2011 we submitted almost 100 VA
    Benefit applications and a couple of dozen of Medicaid applications. We were successful on every application except two. The one application we knew was going to be rejected under the current law but we are appealing and requesting that the law be changed because we think it is unfair to the widows of war time veterans. We know that our chances of success are slim but we are still willing to try to make this change. The other application that was denied was because a family made a change to the way they held an asset in a way that we were not aware of when we submitted the application. The application has been resubmitted and will be approved as soon as it works its way through the system.
  4. You can check out our website or request a planning guide that contains the new Medicaid rules in the State of Illinois and the new limits for VA benefits.
  5. We are constantly hearing from clients that their general practice attorney has given them some information that is either only partially true or not true. Any time somebody adds names of their children to a bank account or to a deed to property or that they purchased an annuity or that they transfer assets, they must know the short term and long term affects on how that transfer will affect their eligibility for either Medicaid benefits or VA benefits. It is an absolute mistake to assume that Medicaid will never be a possibility. If a family does not have over $300,000 of assets to pay for long term care or a good long term care insurance policy then the possibility of Medicaid must always be considered.
  6. We have had several local area attorneys refer their clients and their family including their parents to us to help their family protect and extend their assets or get VA benefits. It is a specialty area of law that we have spent a great deal of time learning. We are not a firm to handle your divorce or their adoption or your taxes because we do not have an expertise in that area. The expertise we have is why local lawyers and doctors refer their clients and their family to us. 
  7. Most VA and Medicaid benefits planning involves knowing the rules and helping our clients apply the rules to their particular family situation and based on their goals and what they want to achieve. Every once in awhile there is a tricky or complicated set of facts that are unique. When those cases occur, we know and attend seminars with the leading elder law attorneys in the country. We are members are both the Missouri and Illinois State National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys as well as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. We also have contacts inside the Veteran’s Administration that can help us talk through and understand an unusual set of facts.
  8. At Common Sense Elder Law we belong to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the State of Illinois and State of Missouri individual groups. We also belong to Medicaid Practice Systems and Elder Law Answers which are national groups that weekly provide access to list serves for questions and discussions and updates on what is happening in other states. 
  9. Please go to the “Testimonials” section of this website. We have received some unbelievably kind letters, cards and notes from our clients or our client’s families about how we have been able to help their family.
  10. Rick Gibson has lectured on Medicaid and VA benefits for the Illinois State Bar Association and the National Business Institute. He has written chapters for continuing legal education guides. Attorneys from both Missouri and Illinois have come to his office to spend time to see the systems and practices at Common Sense Elder Law.
  11. We were part of the group of Illinois Elder Law Attorneys who advocated on behalf of seniors as Illinois was adopting new Medicaid laws that became effective in January of 2012. We participated in discussion groups and on conference calls on past practices of the State Medicaid offices and the future impact of new rules.
  12. The most important thing that we can do is to listen to our clients to understand what their goals are for the rest of their lives. Not every client is the same or wants the same thing. We believe strongly that our role is to try to understand what the client wants to achieve and give the client options that will enable them to achieve what they want. It is not up to us to tell the client what they should want. Every family is different and every family deserves to have the plan in place that comes as close as possible to meeting their goals.

200 North Wood River Avenue Wood River, IL 62095 | v (618) 251-3300 f (618) 251-3358
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Disclaimer: This web site has been designed to provide educational information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. Please do not make any decisions about any legal matter without first consulting with an Elder Care Attorney. No Attorney Client Relationship is formed by any use of the information provided herein.




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