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Does Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

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Does Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

More than 800,000 Americans have found their home in an assisted living community — and living in these communities comes with a price tag.

Most seniors pay for assisted living using a mixture of resources, but you’re wondering, “Does Social Security help pay for assisted living?”

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How Social Security helps pay for assisted living.

  • How much Social Security you can expect to contribute towards assisted living costs.

  • What other supplemental options are available.

Table of Contents

Understanding Social Security & Assisted Living

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a monthly benefit that seniors can start receiving at age 62, but if you wait until full retirement age (66 or 67), your benefit will be higher. 

Those who have paid into the Social Security system can count on that income during their retirement. How much you receive each month is dependent on the amount of Social Security tax you paid on income during your working years.

Sixty-four million people currently receive Social Security benefits, and though your monthly benefit may not cover the entire cost of assisted living, it may certainly be used in conjunction with other resources and benefits to cover assisted living costs.

You may be familiar with the term “assisted living”, but what qualifies as assisted living?

Assisted living is just what the name implies — living in a facility that offers help with activities of daily living (ADL).

Assisted living care consists of:

  • Non-medical services

  • Meals

  • Group activities

  • Health services

  • Personal care

  • Activities of daily living, including:

    • Bathing

    • Grooming

    • Getting dressed

    • Mobility

Some assisted living facilities may provide lower or higher levels of care, including memory care.

Nurse checking heart rate of senior

Can Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

Social Security is a major reliable source of income for seniors that can help pay for assisted living, but it will likely not be enough to cover the entire cost. 

Social Security can pay a portion of the cost, but other financial resources may be needed to cover the remainder.

How do Social Security income and assisted living work together?

How Social Security benefits are used is completely up to the person receiving them. 

Most often, the funds are deposited directly into their bank account and can be used for their needs, including costs incurred while living in an assisted living facility.

Does Social Security Cover Assisted Living Entirely?

Unfortunately, Social Security does not typically cover all of the costs of assisted living.

Though assisted living costs vary from state to state, the average cost in the U.S. is $4,000 per month.

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, assisted living costs average:

  • $141 per day

  • $4,300 per month; or

  • $51,600 per year.

In January 2021, the average Social Security benefit was $1,543 per month. 

If all of that was applied to assisted living costs, a resident would still need to cover roughly $2,700 a month to live in an assisted living facility.

Of course, these figures are based on averages, so individual costs may vary, but the good news is that there are other financial resources available to most seniors that can help cover all the costs associated with assisted living communities.

We’ll discuss these options in detail below, but you should know that the following resources can help with assisted living charges:

  • Medicaid

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

  • Optional State Supplements (OSS)

Need help sorting through all the options? 

Senior Services of America has experienced advisors available to help you take advantage of all the financial resources that may be at your disposal.

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Does Social Security Disability Pay for Assisted Living?

Disability benefits are paid through two federal programs:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - We’ll discuss this further below.

SSDI is available for people who are not able to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last for at least one year. 

How much you can qualify for depends on the age when you became disabled and the number of years you were able to work before becoming disabled.

To qualify for SSDI, you are required to pass two different earnings tests:

  1. A recent work test which is based on the age when you became disabled; and

  2. A duration of work test that will determine the length of time you worked.

For example, if you become disabled at age 30, you will need to have worked at least 2 years to qualify for SSDI.

If you or your family member believes you may qualify for SSDI, you can apply here.

How much can you expect to receive in SSDI benefits? 

It depends and will vary from person to person because SSDI benefits are based on the average of lifetime earnings of the disabled individual, but the average is somewhere between $800 and $1800 per month.

The amount of SSDI allotted each month can also be reduced if you collect other disability payments like worker’s comp or temporary state benefits. 

On the other hand, SSI and VA benefits will not affect your SSDI benefit amount.

As with Social Security benefits, those who receive SSDI benefits are free to use the funds as they see fit, which includes use for assisted living costs.

Does SSI Pay for Assisted Living?

SSI — Supplemental Security Income — is a federal benefit for persons with limited income and assets. 

Since SSI is a needs-based program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled

  • Low income

  • Low assets

Even if you do not qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI benefits to help supplement your income.

There are no restrictions on how SSI is spent, and the average payment for a single person is $700. 

This payment is sent directly to the recipient, who may decide to use it to pay for a portion of their assisted living costs.

What Is Included in Social Security Assisted Living Benefits?

Perhaps you or your family member is already receiving Social Security. 

Assisted living options may also be at the forefront of your mind, but you’re wondering if there are any Social Security assisted living benefits. 

Beyond what we’ve already discussed — SSDI and SSI — you will be glad to know that there are a few more resource options available to you or your loved one.

How to Afford Assisted Living on Social Security: Supplemental Options

Social Security is an earned benefit that can help fund a portion of your residence at an assisted living facility.

If you don’t qualify for SSDI or SSI, consider the following supplemental options that, used in combination with Social Security, can help cover the remaining assisted living costs:

  • Savings

  • Pension payments

  • Retirement accounts

  • Medicaid

  • Long-term care insurance

  • VA benefits

  • Life insurance settlements

  • Reverse mortgage

  • Annuities

  • Bridge loans

  • Personal investments

  • Proceeds from the sale of a home

In addition to these various options, many states also provide optional state supplements that can help make assisted living affordable.

Caregiver serving senior food in apartment

Social Security Assisted Living Supplement: Optional State Supplements (OSS) 

You may still be wondering how to afford assisted living on Social Security even after you’ve calculated your Social Security benefits and other financial resources. 

But even with all these resources, you may find that you are still a little short.

Optional State Supplements (OSS) may be just what you need to make up what’s lacking.

Optional State Supplements are state funds that are available, in addition to federal SSI benefits, to help pay for residence in an assisted living community. 

OSS benefits are based on income, and assisted living residents must meet certain eligibility criteria which may differ from state to state.

Unlike SSI and SSDI benefits which go directly to the recipients, OSS payments are made directly to the assisted living facility.

Because of so many variables, it can be difficult to estimate what amount you may expect to receive in OSS — it could range from very little up to $1,000 per month. 

Even if a state does not offer OSS, they may offer assistance by limiting the amount that assisted living facilities can charge for room and board. 

These caps can only be placed on facilities that accept Medicaid, and the limits are only placed on room and board, not other types of care offered by the assisted living facility.

Though most states offer OSS, some states do not (not an exhaustive list):

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Kansas

  • Mississippi

  • Washington

Are There Assisted Living Facilities That Accept SSI?

This is a good question but one that is difficult to answer.

Assisted living facilities do not directly accept SSI benefits because those payments go directly to the recipient, who can use it to cover some of the assisted living costs. 

However, some assisted living facilities do accept OSS payments

Many assisted living facilities accept Social Security benefits in the form of Optional State Supplements, but eligibility requirements and payment amounts can vary greatly from state to state and facility to facility.

To get a clearer understanding, let’s look at two examples:

  1. Washington - The state of Washington does not offer OSS, but they do cap prices on room and board in assisted living facilities that accept Medicaid.

Idaho - Optional State Supplements for room and board are available in Idaho and range from around $320 to $455 per month. Not every assisted living facility is qualified to receive OSS, so seniors living in Idaho should verify proper OSS certification before applying.

Find Your Home at Senior Services of America Assisted Living Facilities

Exceptional care and a comfortable and nurturing environment — that’s what you’ll find at Senior Services of America’s communities. 

Our goal is to provide a residential environment that will encourage our residents to remain active and engaged:

  • Mentally

  • Physically; and

  • Emotionally.

Our assisted living communities offer home-like spaces and supportive services designed with your specific needs in mind, including:

  • Medication management

  • Help with dressing and grooming

  • Nutritious meals

  • Housekeeping

  • Wellness and socialization activities

We want you to feel happy, healthy, and cared for.

We provide seniors with positive experiences every day and offer assistance in accessing financial support to those who need it. Click here to find out more about how Senior Services of America can aid you in finding the affordable and superior care you are looking for.

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Senior Services of America

800-689-0493

1201 Pacific Avenue Suite 450 Tacoma, WA 98402 US