Helpful Ways to Pay for Assisted Living Costs

Health Care Worker and Elderly ManAssisted living rent can vary from $2,000 to $5,000 monthly. Depending on what type of care your loved one needs, assisted living can be the most affordable solution when compared to a nursing home ($5,000 to $10,000 or more per month) or long-term in-home care. If closely monitored medical supervision is not necessary for your aging senior, assisted living might be the best financial choice.

One payment strategy that has become popular is to use Medicaid.  If your loved one does not have many financial assets and their income levels are low, this could be the right solution for them. Medicaid varies from state to state both in name and in eligibility requirements. Many states dictate that a senior is eligible if he or she has less than $2,000 in assets, or $3,000 if married.

If you are trying to help a senior with a creative financial strategy by gifting money and other assets to family members, known as “Medicaid spend-down”, the government has a five-year look-back rule regarding financial transactions. There are strict guidelines about Medicaid spend-down. If a senior is caught incorrectly spending down resources to qualify for Medicaid, the penalties are steep, including disqualification from receiving Medicaid for a lengthy period. Also, many states do not cover assisted living under Medicaid, but require the submission of an additional wavier.   Be aware that Medicaid assisted living payments are only accepted by some communities and Medicaid beds are usually limited. There can be long waiting lists to enter into a Medicaid financed assisted living facility.

If your senior has a disability, he or she may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a federally administered program. SSI is the government safety net for those destitute and wholly or partially disabled by illness or injury. SSI is a monthly payment which a senior can use to pay for assisted living. To qualify for SSI, contact the appropriate local Social Security office and provide financial documentation and a doctor certification to attest to your senior’s inability to work because of a medical disability.

If your loved one or their spouse is a Veteran, residential care could be paid for in a variety of situations with Veterans benefits. There is a set of benefits available to those with disabilities or service-related injuries, and there is also another set of benefits called Aid and Attendance, made available to any Veteran or surviving spouse who is both disabled and whose income is below a certain threshold. The Veterans Administration website outlines the complicated process to access benefits. It is extremely beneficial to work with an elder law attorney who knows the details of the programs and can assist with the application.

A life insurance policy can pay for your loved one’s assisted living. Often, seniors have a long-standing policy that was implemented to help family members upon their death, but a life insurance policy can provide financial support now. A process known as “accelerated” or “living” benefits is a “cash out” policy that can have your senior redeem 50 to 75 percent of the face value of the policy. Each amount is based on specific policy conditions as well as individual corporate rules. Some policies can only be cashed out if the policyholder is terminally ill while other companies are more flexible in cash outs. If your senior’s particular company does not allow the policy to be cashed, it can still be sold to a third-party company who usually affords the same 50 to 75 percent face value cash out. That company continues to pay the original premiums until their death, at which time the company redeems the full value of the policy. Finally, if your loved one’s policy is of lesser value, it may qualify for a life settlement option known as a “life assurance” benefit or conversion program, which allows the senior to convert between 15 and 50 percent of the policy value directly into long-term care payments.

Does your loved one have a long-term care insurance policy? It can pay for assisted living care. Policies vary, but once the determination and action is taken to collect on it, those monies can be paid directly to an assisted living facility or to the beneficiary who in turn pays the facility. It is wise to consult with an elder law attorney to help understand individual company requirements to optimize the process of collection.

An annuity can be used to pay for some or all of the senior’s assisted living. If your loved one invests a lump sum into an annuity, they will receive regular payments over a promised time period, usually the rest of their life. The annuity helps to stretch your senior’s budget and guarantee at least some money is coming in, even in the event they live longer than expected. Most annuities allow the beneficiary to continue to receive money regularly even if the purchase premium runs out. If your senior were to live a very long time, they would get more back than they put in and an added bonus is that annuities are oftentimes not fully counted as assets by Medicaid when applying for government assistance. The income is counted but not the value of the asset. It is imperative to seek the advice of an elder law attorney before opting into an annuity as they are complex financial products and a wrong decision could be disastrous.

Reverse mortgages are another strategy to pay for assisted living. If your loved one owns their home outright or has only a small mortgage on it, they can get cash value from their home equity in a lump sum or series of monthly payments. The bank will decide the valuation of the home based on multiple factors like the homes worth, interest rates and the applicant’s age. The borrower can stay in the house until death even if the loan balance exceeds the worth of the home. After death, the loan balance has to be repaid which usually means selling the home. Reverse mortgages were developed to help widows remain in their homes after the primary income earner passed away or if that spouse needed to move into assisted living, leaving the other spouse to reside in the long-time family home. Like annuities, a reverse mortgage is a complex financial product, and it is crucial to receive sound advice from a trusted professional and work with a reputable reverse mortgage company. If only one senior parent is living and they do not want a reverse mortgage, they might consider renting out their home and using a landlord to manage the property. The income from renting the house can be used to pay for assisted living expenses.

Lastly, it is possible to pay for assisted living with a bridge loan, which is a short-term loan of up to $50,000 explicitly designed to provide funds to move a loved one into an assisted living facility or continuing care retirement community. It is an unsecured (no collateral required) line of credit with the intent to finance the first few months of living expenses during the sale of the senior’s home, while the application for Veterans benefits is pending, or other actions that are taken that free up funds. Since the interest rates can range from 8.25 to 12.5 percent, this option is best as a short-term strategy. The other type of bridge loan is called the Capital Access Program. It is a lower interest lump sum loan secured by real estate or other assets that the company deems acceptable collateral. It is designed to help seniors come up with the large upfront entrance fee some senior assisted living facilities require. Both types of loans are based on the usual credit criteria: credit score, credit history, debt to income ratio, and more. The senior or an adult child can secure the loan, and up to six family members can cosign loan applications, allowing the risk to be shared among multiple family members.

If your loved one is healthy enough to successfully live in an assisted living facility, the monthly cost is likely a top factor when considering their options. These are some, but not all of the viable and creative ways to pay these costs. To fully explore the options available and what is best for your senior seek the advice of an experienced elder law attorney and make the best decision for your loved one. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning and which strategy is best to help your senior pay for assisted living.

 

 

 

What you should know about drawing social security income

Social secruityMany people don’t know that you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The monthly benefit amount you are eligible to receive will vary based on the age at which you start receiving it. In this post we will share some tips and information to help you plan for when to apply for your SS benefits.

If you choose to start receiving your SS benefits early, they will be reduced based on the number of months you receive them prior to reaching full retirement age. The amount of the reduction will depend on the year you were born.

If you have excess earnings, some of your SS benefits may be withheld until you reach full retirement age. At that time, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefit amount and give you credit for any months in which you didn’t receive SS benefits because of excess earnings.

If you wait until full retirement age to apply for benefits, your benefits will not be reduced. If you decide to delay your SS benefits until after full retirement age, your benefits will be increased based upon the number of months you didn’t receive benefits between full retirement age and age 70.

If you hold off until reaching full retirement age, be sure to apply within 6 months of attaining full retirement age. The Social Security Administration will only pay benefits for the previous 6 months. So don’t delay in applying!!

Once you reach age 70, there is no additional benefit increase, even if you decide to delay taking your SS benefits.

Be aware that the Social Security Administration pays SS benefits the month after they are due. So if you want your SS benefits to start beginning in January, you will receive your first check in February. Be sure to factor that one month “delay” into your calculations and planning.

If you have questions about social security or the timing of your retirement benefits please contact Newman Elder Law at 267-288-5765.

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying1.html

Aging is a Success Story

Senior couple on cycle rideAging is the sign of a successful life. After all, when you think about the alternative to aging your perspective about getting older shifts. You should start seeking self-sufficiency for your retirement years well before the age of sixty-five. But, even if you have not done so, don’t shun the planning stages. You need to address planning no matter what your age. Some preparation is better than none at all. It can provide you with some peace of mind and can take pressure off of family members who would have to make their own income adjustments to be able to provide money to support your cost of living. No one wants to become a burden to their children or otherwise extended family. It feels good to be able to provide for oneself (and one’s spouse) no matter how lavishly or modestly. It is a relief to know that you have solid plans as well as contingency plans for the future. Although it can be hard work and tough to realize how much it will take to cover your future living expenses, putting off the planning stage does not lead to easier or better outcomes.

First of all, consider your location. Many seniors prefer the idea of living out their lives in their own home but there is much to consider about that approach. Are you close to family members or someone willing to help drive you to doctor appointments and grocery stores when you are no longer able? Can your home accommodate a wheel chair; is there a bedroom on the first floor or is there a way to get up and down the stairs? How expensive are the property taxes in your area? How mild is the weather? If you want to go to a retirement community, what locations are most affordable as well as most desirable? How would you transition to less independent living over time?

Once you know your location goals, do some worst-case planning. Adverse health and unforeseen life events can ravage your finances unless you are already managing a sizeable sum of assets or have incorporated proper planning. You might look for advice as to how to turn a nest egg into retirement income, or how to add to your long-term insurance care, or to establish some long-term insurance care. Think particularly about in-home care should your goal be to stay in your own home as you age.

You need to know if your state has approved the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, a joint federal-state policy initiative to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. A professional can explain to you how it can protect some of your assets if you would require extensive care in the future, for instance for Alzheimer’s disease, which could potentially exhaust your private insurance policy benefits and require you to apply for Medicaid. A professional can also advise you if there are any federal or state tax incentives available to you for long-term care partnership insurance. You can also discuss implementing some additional life insurance that can remain in force until you are eighty. It can help a spouse with extra money should something happen to you. In the meantime, both of you could sleep better at night knowing the insurance policy is in place. The point is, you need to examine some potential worst case expenditure scenarios and how you would be able to meet the needs of your care should the moment arise.

Your aging is a success story. Embrace how you prepare for your senior years no matter what your age is, and the sooner the better! Retirement requires careful thought, planning and decision making for the best outcome possible for you and your loved ones.

Contact our office today at 267-288-5765 to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Make Sure Your Wishes Are Carried Out

Cute 80 plus year old married couple posing for a portrait in their house. Love forever concept.The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Frances.

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Senior Housing Trends in 2018 and Beyond

2018 TrendsMarkets driven by the consumerism of the baby boom generation are changing senior living, and there are more options available than ever before. Medical and technological advancements and a shift to a more customized, individual lifestyle preference are leading the way for seniors to age more securely and comfortably. Senior communities are looking less like institutions and more like homes. Infusing technology with medical support in assisting seniors is a giant step forward in reshaping the way people provide care and when necessary intervention.

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Identity Theft – How Seniors Can Protect Themselves

Protect personal identity concept of privacy theftWhile identity theft affects people of all different age groups, more and more senior citizens are becoming targets of this crime.

There are a few different reasons why older people fall prey to identity thieves:

  • After a lifetime of saving, they have more money than younger people
  • More people have access to their personal info, thanks to nursing homes and the health care system
  • Seniors tend to be more trusting and may not see the signs of identity theft
  • Older people are less likely to report identity theft out of fear of losing their independence

Fortunately, there are steps seniors and their caregivers can take to avoid falling victim to identity theft.

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Alzheimer’s Disease 101 – Understanding the Basics

woman with alzheimer's disease What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is defined as an irreversible, progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age. It is the most common form of dementia.

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a generalized deterioration of the brain. The disease is caused by a combination of factors, including genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. There are a variety of factors that put people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age and genetics are risk factors. As people age or if there is a family history of Alzheimer’s, there is a greater risk of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. People with Down Syndrome or mild cognitive impairment have a greater chance of having Alzheimer’s as they age. If a person has experienced past head trauma, this puts them at risk for Alzheimer’s.

The risk of Alzheimer’s is also related to lifestyle and heart health. Those with poor heart health and an unhealthy lifestyle put themselves at greater risk for the disease.

Finally, women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men. Some causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease are impossible to change or control, but lifestyle and heart health are things that can be controlled.

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Paying for Long-Term Care – A Creative Approach

Medicaid word cloudThe business of selling long term care insurance has changed dramatically over the last 20-30 years, which in turn has affected how senior citizens protect their assets.

What was once a busy marketplace of more than 100 insurers vying for long-term care dollars, has shrunk to a group of fewer than 20.

This was because many insurers drastically underestimated how long their policy holders would live, and how many claims they would file.

As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, the insurance industry is in the midst of something of a panic trying to cover its losses, which means that many senior citizens who have long-term care policies are seeing significant rate hikes, some as high as 90 percent.

This leaves them with an almost impossible choice: pay this steep increase or walk away from coverage you’ve been paying into for years, if not decades.

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Understanding Hospice Care

Helping hands.What is Hospice care?

Hospice care can be very difficult for families to come to terms with, but can be a beneficial care option for those caring for a terminally ill loved one. The purpose of hospice care is to provide comfort and quality of life for a terminally ill person. Hospice care can allow the patient to remain at home and can provide ways to alleviate pain and make the person more comfortable. It is a great option for those who are seriously ill, who have exhausted their treatment possibilities, or who do not wish to continue treatment for a terminal illness.

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You Against the World? What it Means to “Solo Age”

Although Baby Boomers are living longer, healthier lives, they’re often doing so on their own.solo aging

It’s what’s known as “solo aging,” a term for what happens when a senior has no children or younger family members to help them as they get older.

There was a time when getting older meant going to live in a nursing facility or moving in with younger family members who could help tend to a senior’s needs.

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