Is There Financial Assistance for Assisted Living?

Author: Sarah Williams

Reviewed By: Rachel Rose

Yes, there is financial assistance for assisted living. Seniors may qualify for various benefits and aid programs, including Medicaid, Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver programs, VA payments and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). However, most sources of financial help don’t cover full assisted living costs, and seniors must pay outstanding fees from other resources.  

Medicaid, HCBS Waivers and Pace

While most state Medicaid programs don’t directly cover assisted living, many have Home and Community-Based Services waivers that provide financial support for qualifying seniors. Programs aim to keep seniors out of institutionalized settings such as nursing homes. Although eligibility requirements vary among states, seniors must have limited means and functional care needs. Funding doesn’t pay for rent or meals in an assisted living community but usually covers support services and social programming. HCBS waivers are not entitlement programs, meaning participation caps and waitlists may exist.

The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly — a joint Medicaid-Medicare program — only operates in specified areas. Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria, including needing nursing home level of care but able to live in the community safely with support, may receive services in an assisted living community. The program doesn’t pay for room or board but may include help with activities of daily living, therapies, recreational activities and medical transportation.

VA Benefits

Qualifying veterans and their survivors receive an extra payment — the Aid and Attendance allowance — on top of their VA Pension to pay for essential care. Individuals can obtain such services in various settings, including assisted living facilities. Similarly, the Veteran Directed Care program funds help with everyday activities and personal care for eligible veterans in some geographic areas. Additionally, seniors who can’t live alone because of medical or psychiatric issues but don’t need nursing home care may qualify for the Community Residential Care program; funding covers services in VA-approved assisted living communities.

Other Ways to Pay for Care

Data from the National Center of Assisted Living indicates that although 1 in 5 assisted living residents receive Medicaid funding, most seniors use private funds to cover full or partial assisted living fees. Payment methods include income, such as Social Security, pensions and house rentals. Residents can also use money from savings or asset sales or use long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages and family assistance.