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Can Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

Seniors present many financial challenges when it comes to paying for assisted living and related care costs. The ability to live independently may start to crumble as senior citizens look for a way to pay for assisted living costs out of their own pockets. There are many who may tap into their savings and other personal assets. However, many seniors choose to rely on social security benefits but may soon realize that it is not enough unless they have other sources to turn to for financial assistance.

For those who want to know if social security can pay for the costs of assisted living, the short answer is yes. There are supplements via social security that helps seniors living in these facilities to help cover their costs as long as they meet certain eligibility criteria. This is important to note and a good thing to take advantage of.

Covering Assisted Living Costs with Social Security Benefits

Seniors that decide to use their social security to pay for assisted living should also note that it may not be enough to cover the entire expenses. This would mean that you would have to depend on other means of help. Let’s explain why.

The national median cost of assisted living, according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey for 2019, was $4,051 per month, or $48,612 annually. However, these costs may vary depending on the type of services offered at the facility and the location of the facility as well.

On another note, on average, a senior that is retired receives at least $1,503 monthly or $18,036 annually. Couples on average receive $2,045 monthly. There are many deciding factors that come into play when it comes to the amount each senior will receive for social security benefits such as their lifetime earnings. The age that a senior retires also plays an important role in the amount of benefits he or she will receive. The longer a person works, the more benefits they will receive for social security.

With this being said, the amount on average that a person can receive each month in social security benefits still does not come near to the cost of assisted living facilities on average.

In a nutshell, while it will be extremely wise to use social security benefits to cover the costs of assisted living, these benefits will not be enough to cover the expenses in full. Supplementing the remaining costs from other income sources such as from investments, pensions, or even savings will help.

Optional State Supplements

For those retirees who are considered low-income, OSS can help out in a couple of ways. It can pay for assisting living and board costs, and also can limit the amount of money that a certain assisted living facility can charge.

However, all seniors must meet the eligibility requirements to obtain optional state supplements. The amount that a retiree receives will depend on the state. It mainly depends on income. If an individual’s income is below or at the federal SSI benefit level, they may be eligible.

There are other states that set the income minimum or maximums higher or lower than the federal SSI level. Assisted living facilities in Florida have their own requirements as well. In 2019, to be eligible for the federal SSI benefit, retirees had to prove that they made at least $771 each month, and $1000 for a couple.

Seniors must already be living in an assisted living facility to be eligible for OSS. Seniors may also be eligible if they live in an adult foster care home. However, each state defines adult foster care and assisted living home differently.

A list of documents that seniors must provide to apply for OSS are:

  • Social security number
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Proof of age (must be 65+)
  • Proof of living arrangements(must be living in an adult foster care of assisted living facility)
  • Work history

OSS & Your Location

States such as Ohio and Indiana put a cap on the amount that assisted living facilities may charge for room and board when it comes to matching federal SSI benefits. However, Alabama, Mississippi, Washington, and Kansas unfortunately do not offer OSS benefits. Seniors who are eligible for SSI benefits can easily afford to pay for their expenses for assisted living by using those SSI benefits.

Assisted living facilities to do not have to adhere to any cap and can still determine on their own the amount to charge their residents only if they do not accept Medicaid. The only facilities that are subject to these caps that the state sets are the ones that accept Medicaid.

Regardless, seniors should still keep in mind that SSI benefits can be used to cover their assisted living facility expenses. Since these SSI benefits may not be enough to cover the costs in its entirety, taking advantage of other governments programs such as OSS, can be beneficial for long-term care.

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