There are several ways to pay for assisted living with no money, including using Medicaid, VA benefits, life insurance policies or taking out a reverse mortgage on your home. The national average price of assisted living is $4,500 per month, and, unfortunately, it is not covered by Medicare, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to pay for care out of pocket.

Using Benefits to Pay for Assisted Living

Medicaid can provide financial assistance with assisted living costs, but what’s covered varies depending on the state you live in. Some states may pay for in-home care or nursing home care but will not cover services at an assisted living facility. In general, Medicaid will pay for services such as personal care, meal preparation, housekeeping, case management and transportation in states where assisted living is covered. Medicaid does not pay for room and board in any state, but it can cap the amount assisted living facilities charge. Seniors must meet income and asset requirements to qualify for Medicaid. There may also be a waiting list to get Medicaid, as states are limited in the number of people they can serve.

If you’re a veteran, you may qualify for VA Aid and Attendance benefits, which provide a monthly payment in addition to your existing VA pension. To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, you must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, including at least one full day during a time of war. Serving in an active combat zone is not required. Widows of eligible spouses can also qualify if they haven’t remarried and meet income and clinical requirements. Clinical requirements include needing help with performing your daily activities, having limited eyesight or needing to spend most of your day in bed due to illness or disability.

Other Options

If you have a current life insurance policy, there are a few ways you can use it to help pay for assisted living. One option is a living benefit program, which allows you to get up to 50% of your policy’s death benefit while saving the rest for your beneficiaries. You might also consider surrendering the policy to the provider. This lets you give up the policy in exchange for any cash value it has accumulated; however, you may have to pay taxes on the amount you receive. Additionally, you can sell the policy to a third party and use the funds to pay for care.

Homeowners may be able to get a reverse mortgage, which is a cash loan that’s taken against their home’s equity. This type of mortgage is called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Recipients receive the loan in monthly installments or one lump sum. The loan doesn’t need to be repaid until the homeowner either leaves the property for one year or passes away. Taking a reverse mortgage can impact your Medicaid eligibility, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons if you’re receiving benefits.