Social Security Disability Insurance can be used to pay for assisted living. This benefit, which can be accessed by people who have a long-term disability and haven’t reached retirement age, is paid directly to the recipient. This means beneficiaries can spend the money in any way they want. 

It can be confusing to determine what SSDI can be used for, as many federal insurance programs have restrictions on the use of benefits. Medicare, for example, doesn’t cover any long-term residential care, including assisted living care. 

Social Security Benefits and Assisted Living

SSDI is just one type of income assistance provided by the federal government. It’s available to people who have a medical condition that means they can’t work. The eligibility requirements for receiving disability can be quite strict, and the medical condition must be expected to last at least one year or result in death. It’s only for people who haven’t yet reached retirement age. 

It’s important to remember that the SSDI amount received is unlikely to pay for assisted living care. The amount beneficiaries receive through SSDI depends largely on how much they earned while working. Although some beneficiaries get more than $3,000, the average amount received through SSDI is $1,234. The average cost of assisted living in the United States is $4,300, according to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, although this can be significantly less in states with a lower cost of living. This means that, on average, the cost of assisted living is more than $3,000 greater than disability benefits.

People who aren’t eligible for SSDI may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. This payment is available to people who are 65 or older or are blind or disabled. Like SSDI, SSI is paid directly to recipients and can be spent in any way they wish; however, the maximum amount of SSI for a single person is just $794 per month.

How to Finance Assisted Living

People receiving SSDI can find other resources to help them pay for assisted living care. Some may have pensions or retirement savings accounts that can contribute to the cost of care. Reverse mortgages may also be an option for people who own a home. 

Many states also have Medicaid Waiver programs that help pay for some form of residential care, including assisted living. State governments prefer to subsidize assisted living for people who need residential care because nursing home care is much more expensive. This is a financing option that low-income SSDI recipients can investigate.