Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

11/1/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

If you or a loved one will require senior nursing care soon, you might be concerned about how you will pay for it. After all, the national average monthly cost for a semi-private room at a nursing home is $7,765. Opt for a private room, and you could pay $8,821 per month. These figures represent the average rates throughout the country, so your state’s costs could be less – or more. Common sources (and their limitations) for paying for nursing home care include:

Social Security income

Many Social Security recipients question whether they may use their benefits to pay for nursing home care. And the answer is that retirees typically use Social Security as a source for covering long-term care costs. Since seniors receive their monthly payments directly from the government, they (or their family) may apply those benefits toward any type of residential care, including nursing homes.

However, with the average retired worker receiving a Social Security check of $1,555 each month, it merely contributes about twenty percent to the cost of a semi-private room—a shortfall of about $6,200. Some older Americans have the private resources to pay for residential care, but many do not. What are some other options for getting nursing home care?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a needs-based program providing a monthly check to those blind, elderly, or disabled individuals with very low incomes and assets. An older adult must be at least 65 years of age to apply. The average SSI monthly amount for 2021 is $794 for eligible individuals and $1,194 for couples.

If you’re 65 or over and receiving Supplemental Security Income, you may apply for Medicaid to assist you in paying for nursing home care. Designed for low-income Americans, it pays for a room, board, nursing care, and social activities in nursing homes.


Medicare is federal health insurance for those 65 and older. While it typically does not cover long-term care in a nursing home, it will cover hospital care, doctor services, and medical supplies while you’re in the nursing home.

While seniors typically move into a nursing home community permanently, some homes will provide short-term stays for rehabilitation after an injury, illness, or surgery requiring skilled nurses or therapists. Medicare may provide payments under these circumstances.

Veterans’ benefits

Veterans with service-related injuries and disabilities receive skilled nursing care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The care is offered at specified locations or through specific private providers.

Long-term care insurance

Those who planned to pay for nursing home care purchased long-term care insurance well before they needed it. Today, a 55-year-old man can purchase an LTC policy with a $ 165,000-lifetime benefit for $950 per year. Long-term care policies may have different terms for paying benefits. For instance, a person must require help in at least two activities of daily living to receive payments for nursing home care.

Life insurance

Many seniors spent a lifetime building up cash value in a whole life insurance policy. They can now tap that cash to help pay for nursing home expenses. Since there are multiple ways to do this, a trusted financial advisor can help you decide. Note: This method does not work with term insurance since it has no cash value.

Reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage is one way to access your home’s equity without selling it. The loan can help pay for nursing home care, while spouses keep the house until they move out or pass away. These financial products can be expensive and complicated, so talk to a financial advisor before you move forward.

Paying for nursing home care can be challenging for many people. Careful research and trusted advisors can help you find the income and new home that works for your needs.

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