Seniors whose income and assets are less than the prescribed limits may qualify for financial assistance in Massachusetts for assisted living costs. MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid plan, operates several waiver programs offering services to seniors who live in an assisted living residence or live at home and need help with daily activities. In most instances, this assistance covers the cost of supplementary care, while seniors are responsible for paying for board and rent.

Massachusetts Medicaid Eligibility

If you are a low-income senior aged 65 or older, you may qualify for Massachusetts Medicaid. Senior income limits depend upon the program, but for Standard MassHealth, your annual income must be below 100% of the federal poverty level after a standard deduction. In 2023, for a single senior adult, the upper-income level is approximately $21,084 per year, including the deduction. For a two-senior household, it is $27,768 per year. These figures include all income sources.

Additionally, there’s a countable asset limit of $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a married couple. Countable assets exclude the senior’s home, vehicle and household effects. Note that MassHealth income limits for seniors aged 65 and older are lower than the equivalent figures for adults aged 64 and younger.

MassHealth Assisted Living Waiver Programs

MassHealth operates three waiver programs that provide help for seniors who need assistance with daily living tasks, taking medication, transportation and physical and occupational therapies.

  1. The Group Adult Foster Care Program covers care assistance for seniors living in an approved assisted living facility. Help includes bathing, dressing, personal hygiene and daily grooming as well as physical assistance for partially incapacitated seniors.
  2. The Moving Forward waiver plans help seniors who have been in a nursing facility for a minimum of 90 days, and who meet the clinical requirements for such facilities, to move back into an assisted living or home-based setting.
  3. The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), available in most Massachusetts counties, offers care to seniors who qualify for nursing home care to live safely in their homes or assisted living facilities. Services provided by the PACE team include adult day care, medical and dental care, transportation, social services and therapies. Seniors need not be on Medicaid to qualify for PACE. There is no charge for seniors earning less than 300% of the federal poverty line with countable assets that don’t exceed $2,000. Seniors earning more than the limit can participate, provided they pay a monthly premium.

Alternative Assisted Living Financing Options in Massachusetts

Other alternatives for seniors who don’t qualify for Medicaid and who cannot access the PACE program include VA Aid and Attendance Benefits available to veterans receiving a pension. Other possibilities are using long-term care insurance to contribute toward assisted living costs and converting a whole life insurance policy. A third option is using a reverse mortgage to fund assisted living costs.