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Ask the Expert: Assisted living help

Financial help is more available for nursing homes

Financial help is more available for nursing homes or at-home care expenses than for assisted living. Photo Credit: iStock

I'm 83 years old and I live in an assisted living facility that costs $4,235 per month. My monthly Social Security benefit is $1,069. I have about $250,000 in the bank and Medicare is my only insurance. I'm very worried about what will happen when I run out of money. Will I be eligible for any assistance so I can stay here?


If you ran out of money tomorrow you'd qualify for financial help, although probably not enough to cover your current expenses. But by the time you need help, the rules may be different; and future assistance may be more (or less) readily available than it is now.

If you're poor enough, Medicaid, a needs-based government program, currently pays the bill for nursing home care or for long-term custodial care in your own home, which can be an assisted living residence. But Medicaid usually doesn't cover the cost of assisted-living room and board; and that's the lion's share of your bill. The only exception: Medicaid does cover the cost of assisted-living facilities licensed by the state's Assisted Living Program. That program's scheduled to expand but is still very small. There are currently only seven ALP-licensed assisted living facilities on Long Island.

Veterans Affairs is another potential source of help for people in your situation, says Sharon Kovacs Gruer, a Great Neck elder-law attorney. If you meet VA eligibility requirements and a doctor says you must be in assisted living for medical reasons, you may qualify for Veterans' Aid and Attendance benefits to help cover your expenses. Single veterans can receive up to $1,704 a month; married veterans up to $2,020, and veterans' surviving spouses up to $1,095.

The bottom line Financial help is more available for nursing homes or at-home care expenses than for assisted living.

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