The State of Illinois has the legal obligation to recover assistance received through the Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD), Medical Assistance Grant (MAG) and Medical Assistance No Grant (MANG) programs. Liens and claims are the two legal actions used to collect the amount received by clients. A lien can be filed on any real property you own and against your estate. The amount of the lien/claim will be equal to the amount of assistance you received. These recoveries are used to help fund additional services to other Medicaid beneficiaries.
NOTE: Effective June 2, 2022, Public Act 102-1037 restricts the filing of new liens on real property as a means of collection in these cases. Liens filed prior to the effective date will still be pursued.
What is a lien?
A lien is filed on "real property," which is land, and anything erected on, growing on, or affixed to the land, such as buildings.
- Liens are filed on both homestead and non-homestead property. Homestead property is the dwelling and adjacent property that you own and live in. Other real estate and buildings that you own (but do not live in) are considered non-homestead property. Liens are not filed on mobile homes.
- No action will be taken to force the sale of your property. If and when the property is sold, the lien will be paid from the sale proceeds.
- No action will be taken to enforce the lien when you die, if your property is occupied by your spouse, your child under age 21, your child over age 21 who is blind or disabled, or in some cases, your brother or sister. No one will be asked to leave the property.
When is a lien filed?
A lien is filed on your real property in the following situations:
- If you receive AABD, MAG and/or MANG cash and medical assistance during your lifetime, a lien will be filed in the amount of the cash assistance that was received.
- If you receive AABD medical assistance only, reside in a long-term care facility, and have resided for at least 120 consecutive calendar days in a medical institution, a lien will be filed in the amount of all medical assistance received, both before and during the time in a long- term care facility.
How are liens calculated?
When counting the 120-day period of a hospital stay, a transfer to another long-term care facility does not interrupt the 120-day count. If you are discharged from the long-term care facility to the community and then return to a medical institution, the 120-day count starts over with the first day of re-admission. A lien will not be filed against your real property when you reside in a long-term care facility if your property is occupied by your spouse, your child under age 21, your child over age 21 who is blind or disabled or, in some cases your siblings.
The lien will be released if you are discharged from the medical institution to return to your home. Persons who receive medical assistance only and who have resided in a medical institution for at least 120 consecutive calendar days will be notified of the decision to file a lien on their real property.
These recoveries are used to help fund additional services to other Medicaid beneficiaries. If you want to appeal the decision, you can write a letter requesting a hearing or fill out an Appeal Request form. The form is available at all local Department of Human Services offices. If you need help filling it out, your caseworker will help you. Mail or take your letter or appeal form to your local Department of Human Services office or mail it to BAH, Bureau of Administrative Hearings, 69 W. Washington 4th Floor Chicago, IL. 60602. You can also appeal online at DHS.BAH@illinois.gov, by fax at 312-793-3387, or by calling 1-800-435-0774 Toll-Free, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (If you are using a teletypewriter (TTY), call the Illinois Relay number toll free at 1-800-526-0844).
What is an estate claim?
An "estate," includes both real and personal property such as money, a house, or other things of value that a person leaves to family members or others (heirs) when he or she dies. A claim can be filed against the estate of a deceased client. An estate claim is filed for clients who received assistance during their lifetime or at the time of death.
When is a claim filed?
A claim will be filed against your estate in the following situations:
- If you received AABD cash and medical assistance, a claim will be filed to recover all cash assistance you received, and any medical assistance paid after you reached age 55.
- If you received AABD medical assistance only, a claim will be filed for the amount of medical assistance paid after your 55th birthday.
- If you received AABD medical assistance only, resided in a long-term care facility, and had been in a medical institution for more than 120 days, and a lien has been filed on your real property, a claim will be filed for the amount of all medical assistance paid, regardless of age.
A claim may not be filed against your estate if recovery would cause an heir or beneficiary undue hardship. To waive recovery, the heir or beneficiary must show that the recovery would cause them to become or remain eligible for programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Food Stamps (SNAP).
The state may "look back" up to 60 months before you applied for nursing home or waiver services to determine when your income was reduced, and resources were transferred. PLEASE NOTE: HFS and its staff, including its attorneys, are prohibited from giving legal advice or recommending specific actions to the public. Anyone in need of legal advice or assistance with estate planning has the option to contact or retain an attorney of that person's choice.
Attorneys/Insurance Companies/Title Companies
For Liens and Estates cases in Cook County, please send inquires and referrals to:
For Liens and Estates cases in all other jurisdictions, please send inquiries and referrals to:
We will need a copy of the signed HIPAA document, a letter of representation and the following information:
- Customer's Name
- Customer's Date of Birth
- Last four digits of Customer's Social Security Number
- State of Illinois Medicaid Case Number, if available
- Medicaid Recipient Number, if available
For information about Department of Human Services (DHS) programs:
Call or visit your local Department of Human Services office. A caseworker at the local office will answer your questions. For information call:
Illinois Department of Human Services Helpline
Monday - Friday (except state holidays)
7:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Persons using a teletypewriter (TTY) can call toll-free at 1-800-447-6404.