How to Find Low Income Senior Living

26 March 2020 Assisted Living

If you are looking for low income assisted living options for yourself or the beloved senior in your life, you don’t have to worry if you have a fixed budget. There is a broad range of options for you to work with. All the elderly deserves to be cared for in the twilight of their years, including those with limited budgets. Most seniors are retired with fixed incomes, relying on their pensions or government subsidies like the SSS. This makes it quite problematic to find an affordable housing option.

Most assisted living facilities provide a wide array of services that can make life easier for the elderly. Some come with a steep price tag, which can be a financial drain for you and your loved ones, especially when you already have a minimum monthly income. Although finding the right low-cost senior living home can be a challenge, it is not impossible, and you can do it. Scoping through options is worth it for your wallet, especially when you find good quality long-term care that’s affordable.

Fortunately, there are many types of financial assistance to help you cover the cost of assisted living for your beloved senior. The only thing left for you to do is to determine which kind you qualify for. The price and the corresponding financial assistance may vary from every state, but there are available resources for all seniors across the country. Consider the following options below as these can help you or your loved one pay for assisted living.

Defining the Cost of Assisted Living

These costs vary depending on several factors like the size of the dwelling, the location within a community, and the types of services the residents need. The monthly rate can also be affected by the food options, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, and activities like outings and classes.

When you are looking for a facility, look for these details so you can factor everything into your budget. Some facilities offer an all-inclusive arrangement, while others require you to pay for individual fees based on what you need. For those who intend to use most of the services, it would be a lot more affordable to pay the full costs. But if residents still like to maintain some independence such as cooking their own meals, doing their own housekeeping, and providing their own self-grooming, then it may be cheaper to pay individually.

Studies show that in America, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $4,000. However, this varies with the more expensive states reaching as high as $6,000 like in the Northeast. The lower-income states like the Midwest cost around $3,000. Those seniors who are suffering from cognitive issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and the like can expect to add about $1,200 per month because their case requires more care, supervision, and attention.

Alternative Home Care Options

Aside from the usual nursing home or large assisted living communities, there are low-cost options available for seniors. Consider some of the following options below.

Residential Care Homes

Residential care homes are another option for seniors. This is also known as an RCFE or residential care facility for the elderly. Some refer to it as board and care, personal care home, adult day home, or group home. These smaller facilities, usually around eight to ten residents only, offer food and light assistance.

These are cheaper because they are in a single-family house that is adapted to meet licensing requirements. Although they offer round-the-clock care, there are no medical professionals on-site. Administering medication is also dependent on the state or licensing requirements.

Because these are not as specialized as large nursing homes or sprawling adult assisted living communities, the cost is much lower. This may not be a fitting choice for all seniors because they do not provide advance care for  Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.   A smaller facility like this is perfect for seniors who still crave independence.

ALCP or the Assisted Living Conversion Program

HUD or the Housing and Urban Development has infused $26million in grant funds to owners of multi-family home development projects in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Texas. They use the funds for the conversion of existing tenements into affordable small apartments for seniors who require support services that assisted living provides. At the same time, it gives them a chance to live independently.

All the ALCP facilities must meet the services they offer in a licensed assisted living facility like housekeeping, dining options, personal care, activities, and dispensing medication. The HUD mandates that these offerings must be carried out by a licensed provider or a certified third-party service group.

On top of all these, the apartment project must qualify as section 202 or other similar subsidized HUD housing. The units are required to be cheaper than the usual adult living facility. It would be best to read more about this here.

Defining Levels of Income

The low-income status of a senior depends on their income and location. The HUD says the low-income limit is “80% of the median income for the county in which the person resides.” Take note that it is the median and not the average.

To illustrate, those seniors who live in a state with an annual range of $15k to $60K, with $30K as the median, then an elderly who receives $24K (being that it is 80% of $30K) would belong to the low-income bracket.

The HUD included two added distinctions for the meager income or those at the poverty level. The ” low income” bracket should be no more than 50% of the median, while those who are at the poverty level are 30% or even less of the median. To determine, the government considers pensions, SSS checks, IRAs, insurance annuities, and assets like real properties and cars.

Financial Assistance Opportunities for the Low Income

There are many ways to aid low-income seniors to help with assisted living. Remember that every facility has various requirements, so it’s a good idea to research so you can determine payment schemes and what kind of assistance they will accept.

The Section 202 Supportive Housing Program

Low-income seniors over sixty-two years old may be eligible to live in subsidized housing via the HUD Section 202 program that covers both assisted living and independent environments. Since its inception in 1959, this Supportive Housing HUD program is the only one that provides housing only for seniors. Nonprofits usually own the properties.

Through rent-assisted housing, seniors and those with disabilities have a chance to live independently. Communities offer a range of activities as supportive measures. Examples are dining options, transport, fitness programs, art therapy, nutrition, and the like. Those who are over sixty-two with meager income may apply for residence in Section 202 by lodging their application directly to the facility.

Even though the money comes from the federal government, the money is distributed to the states and counties through nonprofits to build affordable elderly housing. Apart from the initial building grants, these nonprofits who build Section 202 housing can also receive rental assistance funds. These permit them to remain solvent so they can accept low rent from the residents.

Veterans’ Benefits

Veterans, as well as their spouses, can qualify for financial assistance through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Although they will not directly pay the rent, they may cover some services that fall in the Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit. This is a monthly program based on needs that go beyond the pension to cover long-term care. A veteran or surviving spouse can only receive benefits if they cannot leave their house, but they cannot both claim at once.

As of December 1, 2018, through November 30, 2019, these are the eligibility requirements for A&A:

  • A single veteran with an income at or under $22,577 annually
  • A veteran with a dependent or spouse with an income at or under $26,765 annually

Additionally, one of the following considerations must be met:

  • Need help with daily living activities like taking a bath, dressing, or adjusting prosthetic devices.
  • Bed-bound.
  • Lives in a long-term care facility because of mental or physical incapacity.
  • With severe visual impairment, concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less or a correction grade of 5/200 or less in both eyes.

Contact your state’s Pension Management Center or check the local regional benefit office to apply for A&A Benefits. Also, check if you are eligible with your local VA office because guidelines can vary per state. Prepare your supporting documents as evidence for your claim.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Be careful of long-term care insurance or LTCI because it is not a catch-all solution. Premiums are steeper than the cost of care itself. The type of coverage also varies with a corresponding grace period before you can access the funds. Those that give quick access cost more. On top of that, a physical evaluation may be necessary to determine if you or your elderly loved one cannot perform at least two daily living activities like dressing, bathing, and the like.

If you are thinking of availing of an LTCI, do your due diligence and research your options. On top of that, you must read the fine print to know exactly what will be covered when you already need the money. You must also compute the total cost of your prospective LTCI to check what is the more effective approach.

Medicaid

You will be delighted to know that there are several kinds of Medicaid programs that offer financial assistance so you or your loved one can avail of assisted living. The 1915 waivers and the HCBS or Home and Community Based Services Waivers are the most common types of assistance. As of 2019, these two are available in forty-four US states.

The goal is for the coverage to expand to all states eventually. Keep in mind that the coverage, benefits, and eligibility requirements vary depending on where you live. Some states have stringent limits when it comes to the size of the assisted living facility, while others only cover a small area of personal care. To fully understand what your state will help you with, it is best to contact your state’s Medicaid office.

Non-Medicaid Type of State Assistance

All states have various benefit programs of their own to help people in their golden years. These programs, of course, vary based on where you live. All these also provide different perks and coverage. In a few states, they give money to the elderly directly, and they use it as how they deem necessary.

Other states have a more concrete form of assistance, like helping others run their own assisted living facilities or providing rooms itself to qualified individuals at a cheaper cost than a private board and care home. For more information and guidelines, it would be best to contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

Social Security

Relying on the Social Security Administration will offer some relief, but they won’t directly pay for the cost of assisted living facilities. Beneficiaries can use their SS checks to pay for the expense of living in an assisted care home.

It is also important to note that if a beneficiary is already residing in an assisted living facility, most states are willing to increase the monthly amount to help with the costs. Similar to the other programs mentioned above, coverage and eligibility requirements vary immensely depending on what state you call home. It is an excellent idea to speak with your local Social Security office to find out what your benefits are and how you can apply.

Deciding on the Appropriate Assisted Living Home in Your Locality

The final decision on which facility to go with will go by the needs of the person who will be living there. It would be best if it were a convenient location so family members can frequently visit to keep them happy.

It will also depend on the services offered by the facility. Be sure to take a tour to see the actual rooms and to meet the staff. If you are living there, you must go to a place where you feel most comfortable with. If you are searching for your elderly loved ones, interview everyone on their behalf. Ask a lot of questions so you can gauge how accommodating and experienced they are.

Trust is crucial in this kind of home set up. Of course, you will want to leave a loved one with people you have a good rapport with. On top of that, check the other residents and ask them how happy they are with their stay. This is a crucial barometer when you make your final decision.

Final Word

There are many kinds of low-income housing options out there. You need to do your due diligence to find the right one. Go with a reputable home-facility that you can trust. A quality provider will have different options based on your income, age, and medical needs. Your comfort and happiness is their utmost priority so you can live a quality life even when you’re already in the twilight of your years.