One of the options available to seniors in the U.S. who are planning for life after retirement are assisted living facilities. But while they come with many benefits, the cost of staying at these facilities can be steep. As a current or soon-to-be retiree, it is likely that you will be living on a tighter budget than before. This may lead you to wonder if there's any financial assistance for assisted living.
The simple answer is yes, and the keys are to explore all your options, ask lots of questions, and don't assume you have to foot the entire bill yourself. With some effort, you can find a solution to make assisted living affordable. In this guide, we'll explore the information on some of the help that's available to help make your life in retirement easier.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
Before we dive into financial assistance, you may be wondering about the average cost of assisted living. Many people know that it's expensive but aren't sure of the actual number, so let us give you an idea.
The costs of assisted living can vary quite a bit depending on the level of care you need and the amenities offered. On average, it can cost around $4,774 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. That may seem a lot, but there's much to consider here, as well as a lot of financial support options.
So the first question is, what makes it so expensive in the first place?
Meals, Services, and Activities
Most facilities include amenities like housekeeping, laundry, meals, and recreational activities. The more services offered, the higher the monthly rate. Some places charge extra for special diets or more frequent meals. Activities range from exercise classes to entertainment and trips. Extra fees may apply for outings or events.
Different Levels of Care
Assisted living communities typically offer different levels of care at varying price points. Light assistance such as help with chores, bathing, or dressing typically starts around $3,500 per month. Moderate assistance for managing medications or physical therapy averages $4,200. Intensive levels of care for conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia can cost $5,500 or more a month.
Evaluating Your Finances and Budget
Now that you understand the costs, the next thing is to sit down and evaluate if an assisted living community is still a financially viable option for you.
First, you need to determine your monthly income from sources like Social Security, pensions, annuities, work, and investments. Don’t forget any assistance you may receive from family members. Then, calculate your monthly expenses for necessities such as housing, utilities, food, transportation, and healthcare. Remember that many of these costs will be replaced by the assisted living fees. Once you understand where you're at financially, you can make a better decision. But what if your income falls short? Here, let us begin to get into financial assistance for assisted living.
Medicare and Medicaid: What They Cover for Assisted Living
If you're a member of one of the Medicare or Medicaid programs, chances are you may already have some financial assistance available without even knowing it. But what do each of these programs cover?
Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays, and Part B, which covers doctor visits and outpatient care, do not cover assisted living facility costs. However, Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and certain Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans may offer limited coverage for assisted living services like help with daily activities or health monitoring. Some Medicare Advantage plans (plans offered by a private insurance company) also cover care coordination and case management benefits which can help in an assisted living setting.
The Medicaid program provides health insurance for low-income individuals including the elderly and disabled. Medicaid waivers like the Assisted Living Waiver or Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (HCBS) provide coverage for assisted living services for those who meet their income requirements. Medicaid waivers allow recipients to use Medicaid funds for assisted living instead of nursing home care. Services covered include assistance with bathing, dressing, and proper medication management. Note that requirements and benefits vary depending on your state.
To get coverage with Medicaid for assisted living, you must meet certain income and asset limits. Some assisted living facilities accept both private pay and Medicaid residents, while others are private pay only. Be sure to check with facilities directly to inquire about their payment acceptance policies.
VA Benefits for Veterans Needing Assisted Living
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several benefits that can help veterans pay for assisted living. If you're a veteran, you’ve earned these benefits from your service, so take advantage of them. Here's the types of assistance you may be eligible to receive:
VA pension provides monthly payments to low-income veterans who served during wartime. The pension can help supplement the assisted living costs. The pension amount depends on your income, marital status, and the cost of care in your area.
The Veteran-Directed Care program gives veterans more control and flexibility in how their benefits are used to cover care. You receive a monthly budget which you can use to hire home health aides, personal care attendants or pay for assisted living care. You have more choice in who provides your care and how they do so.
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While planning for a move into an assisted living facility, you may also need to think about different ways to cut down on other expenses. One of those expenses is your phone and phone bill. And while we understand the importance of staying connected to friends, family, and resources, phones and phone service just keep getting more expensive!
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Or come to one of the EASY Wireless's retail stores, where our customer service agent will help you apply for the benefits.
Whichever way you go with, the first step is to provide proof of identity with a government-issued ID. This is so you can confirm your participation in one of the qualifying programs or that you meet the household income requirement.
You can show the following documents to prove that you are taking part in a government assistance program or use them as proof of active benefits:
- Statement of benefits from a qualifying Program.
- Notice letter of participation, such as an award letter
- Program participation documents, such as a screenshot from an online account.
- In order to show income, you can provide any of the following proofs:
- Unemployment Documentation
- Copy of your State or Federal income tax return.
- Three months' worth of current pay stubs.
- Veterans Administration or SSI benefits letter.
- A divorce decree or child support document that states income.
- Retirement or pension statement.
Next, you'll need to show proof that you are taking part in a federal government program or proof of income.
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