Assisted Living

3/25/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

The cost of assisted living is the main obstacle many older adults must overcome before moving into a senior living residence. Depending on various factors, prices for assisted living range between $2,000 to $5,000 per month. While these prices are prohibitive for many seniors paying out-of-pocket, insurance payments, veterans benefits, financial aid for assisted living, and other resources are available.

With over 400 programs providing financial assistance for senior care, help could come from federal, state, and local governments, the Veterans Administration (VA), some private organizations, non-profits, and dozens of other agencies. With all of these sources and many conflicting qualification rules, determining eligibility can be a challenge. 

Take a look at some of these familiar sources of financial aid for assisted living.

Medicaid’s Benefit for Assisted Living

Medicare does not pay for a stay in an assisted living facility, but Medicaid might. Since the federal government and the states partially fund Medicaid, assisted living aid will vary from state to state. Even though the federal government provides guidelines on how each state must spend its Medicaid allotment, they give states enough leeway to develop policies to help those in assisted living facilities.

Several types of Medicaid programs pay for assisted living services. Many states use the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waiver program, but some states use others, including regular Medicaid, for assisted living services.

Waivers typically allow participants to have higher income eligibility limits, allowing $2,313 per month in 2019, compared to $771 for Medicaid State Plans. These numbers vary by state, marital status, and a few other factors.

Keep in mind that waivers, unlike the entitlements of regular Medicaid, have enrollment caps, meaning that waiting lists for openings are not uncommon. Remember that waivers require that participants have “nursing home level of care needs” in most states.

Check Your State for the Medicaid Financial Aid for Assisted Living It Provides

Today, forty-four states offer some financial assistance to individuals in assisted living. However, neither the term “assisted living” nor the benefits provided are consistent across these states. Some states refer to them as residential care or adult foster care. Others may call them personal care homes or supported living, to name a few.

Some states will pay only for personal care services received in assisted living, while others include nursing services. Coverage for medication administration, homemaker services, and recreational activities can vary by state. While no state may pay for room and board costs in assisted living, they have ways of controlling these costs. Some of their methods include:

  • Capping the amount the facilities can charge.
  • Offering Medicaid eligibility some supplemental Social Security assistance to cover assisted living room and board from their general state funds.
  • Paying for meal prep and serving but not the actual food costs.

It is essential to understand that Medicaid might not be the ideal source of financial aid for every family. Their payment rates for assisted living are not high, and not every assisted living community accepts Medicaid. As a result, you might find more appropriate aid outside of the Medicaid system.

Alternatives to Medicaid

Aid and attendance benefits from the VA: Veterans and widows of veterans may be eligible for aid and attendance benefits through the veteran’s administration if they meet the financial and medical requirements. Veterans will need to furnish a medical statement that includes the results, diagnosis, and prognosis of any recent medical treatment or examination. If none is available, the VA might arrange for a physical exam. Contact your local veterans benefits office to find out if you qualify.

Low-income apartments: Some facilities have secured bonds during their construction, requiring them to offer a specific number of apartments to low-income seniors. There are a limited number of these apartments, and the facilities rarely promote them.

Reverse mortgages: While not strictly being financial aid for assisted living, reverse mortgages are an option for a married couple with a large amount of equity in their home. If only one spouse requires care, and the other is not quite ready for assisted living, a reverse mortgage can allow one spouse to remain in the home and take the money from the reverse mortgage to pay for assisted care for the other. When the house is sold, the profits pay off the reverse mortgage.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff