How to Afford Assisted Living
The costs of senior care can be staggering. But when you need it, you need it.
A move to assisted living rarely feels optional. Most people would prefer to stay in their homes if given the option, but as the needs of a senior increase and the burden put on caregivers becomes unsustainable, you have to start thinking about how your family will afford assisted living.
Luckily, there are a number of different financial options to consider and resources that can help. Veterans even have some extra benefits they can tap into to help them afford assisted living.
The Aid and Attendance Pension (often referred to as the A&A benefit or A&A pension) is available to any veteran or veteran’s spouse that requires help with daily tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing. As long as a physician confirms that the patient needs assistance with essential daily tasks, your family could be eligible for up to $1,788 per month for the veteran themselves, $1,149 for a veteran’s spouse and $2,120 for a couple.
The Aid and Attendance pension is a valuable resource that’s underutilized by many veterans who just don’t realize it exists. If your family’s finding yourselves reeling from the price tag attached to getting a loved one the assisted living care they need, don’t discount how much of a difference the Aid and Attendance benefit can make. Find out how to apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit here. If you have questions regarding your application, feel free to visit our forums.
Long-term Care Insurance
Unfortunately, you have to think about this one early or you’ll end up missing your chance to invest in it, but individuals that manage to get long-term care insurance while they’re still relatively healthy find the payout can make a huge difference when the time comes for an extended assisted living stay.
Look into plans to see if you and any of your loved one’s qualify. If it’s too late for some of the more elderly members of your family, those of you who still qualify can take advantage of it now to ensure it’s there for you when your time comes.
VA Long-term Care Services
In addition to the Aid and Attendance benefit, the VA provides long-term care services that many veterans can take advantage of. Your VA coverage won’t usually pay for your assisted living stay outright, but will cover many of the services associated with assisted living care, so you could be able to get some real help in offsetting the cost.
Not every veteran will qualify for Medicaid, but those that do may be able to get much of their assisted living costs covered by the program. You will want to seek out an assisted living home that accepts Medicaid, and how much you qualify for will depend on how much the government determines you can afford on your own.
Keep in mind, if you're on Medicaid and want to apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit as well, the maximum award amount of the pension benefit you can be given is $90 a month. And this $90 has to be spent on personal care items only.
If you own a house, it can be used to your advantage to help cover the cost of care. You can either sell the home and put the money toward your assisted living care, or rent it out to tenants whose payment can be put toward the assisted living bill. The latter case does involve more work – you may want to hire a property manager to deal with the details if you go that route. Some families also take out a reverse mortgage on the home to have extra funds to put toward assisted living care, but this option only works if one of the owners will be continuing to live in the home.
Many life insurance policies include the option to take cash out on the policy while you’re still alive. You do take a hit on how much the policy ultimately pays out if you go with this option, but some families find that the money is more valuable while the policyholder is still alive and in need of long-term care than it would be after they pass.
An annuity allows you to pay a lump sum upfront and receive a set amount of money monthly for the entire length of the annuity, which is usually the rest of your life. This option only works if you have enough money to start out, but if you’re worried the money you have might run out due to a long stay in assisted living or a nursing home, purchasing an annuity would mean you can count on that payment to come in for as long as you need it.
This stuff is complicated. The good news is, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Veterans and their families can set up an appointment with a social worker to help work through the best financial option for your situation. Long-term care is expensive any way you cut it, but if you understand all the resources and options available, your family can weather the costs more easily.
How to Find the Best Assisted Living
We highly recommend you use SeniorAdvisor.com for your assisted living search. They are focused on improving the way people find senior care for themselves and their loved ones through sharing verified consumer reviews and ratings. In just two years, they've become the nation's largest consumer ratings and reviews site for senior care and services across the United States and Canada. Start your assisted living search here.