Assisted living can be expensive, and depending on the area, it can be very expensive. When considering a move to assisted living for yourself or a loved one, you may wonder if it is affordable, or if there is help available.
For most people, assisted living costs are paid out-of-pocket. Families typically use a combination of Social Security, veterans and other pensions, as well as their savings to cover the expense. But there are some resources to help defray costs.
Here are some examples of areas that may provide you with financial assistance:
Long-term care insurance: If you or your parents have long-term care insurance, ask your agent for the specifics of assisted living coverage. Typically, long-term care insurance covers the cost of the following: Hired help to care for you in your home with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, cooking and cleaning; community programs such as adult day care; assisted living services provided in a residential setting outside of your home; visiting nurses such as Home Health; and care in a nursing home.
Long-term care insurance most likely will pay a portion of rent or needed services. Usually the community will fill out the paperwork stating what services are provided by the community and the insurance company will decide on what portion of the cost they will cover.
Veteran’s aid and attendance benefit: “Aid and attendance” is a “pension benefit” for veterans and/or surviving spouses who need regular help with activities of daily living. Benefits also cover assisted living communities; those who are blind; and those in nursing homes because of mental or physical incapacity. If you do not qualify for Aid and Attendance, you may want to check to see if you qualify for either the basic or housebound tiers of the VA benefits. For more information visit: www. veteranaid.org.
Selling your home: Although selling your home may seem impossible in a down housing market, you might consider services to help you sell faster to get your home looking its best. Consult a Realtor to get advice on what impact these services may have in getting your home sold quicker and for the price you want.
Tax deductions: Taxpayers paying medical expenses for themselves, a spouse, or dependent may deduct expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Qualifying medical expenses may include a nursing home, home for the aged, and long-term care services — including meals and lodging — when the services are for medical care. Consult your tax adviser for details.
Reverse mortgages: A reverse mortgage is a loan against your home that you do not pay back for as long as you live there. It’s important that you consult a financial adviser on a reverse mortgage because they can be costly if you plan on moving or selling your home within a couple years of starting a reverse mortgage. Visit www.aarp.org for more information.
Medicaid: Medicaid benefits, as they pertain to assisted living, are specific to the state in which you live. States that include assistive services in their benefits have requirements that must be met in order to qualify such as level of disability; level of income; and level of current assets. For more information on specific state requirements, go to www.cms.hhs.gov/home/medicaid.asp.
Life settlements with life care funding group: A life settlement is the liquidation of an in-force life insurance policy, while the policyholder is still alive, for an amount greater than the cash value. The process takes between 30-60 days to complete. It is the sale of an asset through a competitive bidding process, providing the policy owner with a lump sum payment. If your policy is active or has lapsed within the last 24 months, this may be an option for you. For more information go to www.life carefunding.com
Paying for assisted living is often seen as a challenge, but with the right amount of planning and foresight, assisted living can be an affordable option for many seniors.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only. For expert advice, consult an elder law attorney, tax adviser, or other expert professional.
Cher Haack is the executive director of The Lodge Assisted Living Facility in Carson City.