How Much Does Assisted Living Cost: Options Available For Low-income Seniors

assisted living costs

Assisted living facilities provide services for older adults who can no longer live alone in their homes but do not require the in-home care given by nursing homes. Unfortunately, finding cheap assisted living may be difficult for seniors and their families. The high living cost of most assisted living communities may put significant financial pressure on family members and seniors with lower incomes.

For seniors who qualify, numerous financial aid to help cover assisted living expenses are available. However, for many people, understanding which types of help they are qualified for and what it covers may be time-consuming and complex.

While the expenses of assisted living and financial help for low-income seniors differ by state, options are available for seniors across the country. Continue reading to learn about alternatives for helping you or a senior loved one pay for an assisted living facility.

Income levels explained

The income and location of a senior determine whether or not they qualify for low-income status.

The low-income restriction is “80 percent of the median income for the state where the senior resides,” according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The median number, not the average, denotes the midway of a range. So, if income levels in a senior’s county of residence typically range from, say, $15,000/year to $60,000/year, with $30,000 being the median, a senior who earns $24,000/year (80% of $30,000) would be considered low-income.

While this criterion of low income may appear acceptable to someone living in or near poverty, HUD adds two additional differences. The “very low-income” category is no more than 50% of the median income (in our example, $15,000), while “very low-income” is 30% or less of the median income (in our example, $9,000 or less). When calculating income, keep in mind that the government considers all sources of income, not simply the senior’s social security check.

When determining eligibility, HUD considers income from pensions, retirement accounts, IRAs, insurance annuities, and assets such as real estate and vehicles.

Assisted living community costs

The cost of assisted living varies based on the senior living community. The overall assisted living cost is affected by the size of the private room, the location of the assisted living facility, and the assisted living services that the resident requires. Food and eating, personal care services, housekeeping, and daily living activities and amenities like transportation, trips, and lessons all impact the monthly fee.

Rent and other senior services are charged differently in different assisted living communities. Assisted living residents will either pay for an all-inclusive senior care or pay fees for particular services on an a la carte basis, depending on the facility.

Many assisted living facilities usually require residents the option to pay a single cost that covers their rent, meal preparation, and services such as access to a fitness center, transportation, cleaning, and any other facilities provided by the senior living facility.

According to Genworth Financial, the average monthly cost of assisted living in the United States is $4,000. However, the price may vary greatly depending on location, with average monthly expenses as high as $6,000 in the Northeast and as low as $3,000 in the Midwest.

Residents requiring memory care or a skilled nursing facility should expect to pay an extra $1,200 per month due to the required nursing care. Click here for independent living communities options available.

Financial options low-income seniors can use to pay for assisted living facilities

The public and private options listed below can aid low-income seniors, and their families afford assisted living care. Remember that each assisted living home is unique, so it’s always a good idea to speak with each facility or a senior living advisor to discover more about their pricing structure, payment alternatives, and the types of help they are prepared to take.

Section 202 program and assisted living communities

Section 202, or the Supportive Housing for the Old Program, is sponsored by HUD and is meant for low-income seniors, especially “the fragile elderly.” The program assists in providing rent subsidies for low-income seniors who want to live in senior living communities but require daily assistance with duties such as cooking, food preparation, and transportation.

This program is offered to any low-income home with at least one older adult over 62. Before applying for this program, individuals should confirm their qualifying status and look for Section 202 Houses in their region.

From there, you may contact a Section 202 representative to learn more about the unit and the application process. The program generally covers up to 70% of the cost, with qualifying households expected to contribute up to 30% of their net income to rent.


Several Medicaid programs offer financial support for assisted living costs. Waivers for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and 1915 Waivers are the most popular type of this aid and are available in 44 states as of 2019. This coverage is projected to extend further until it reaches every state.

While some states are shifting away from waivers and toward managed care schemes for assisted living quality care, people in those areas will continue to benefit from the program at the same level.

Even though many states around the country provide Medicaid benefits for senior living, these benefits and the qualifying conditions vary widely from state to state.

Some jurisdictions place tight limits on the size of the senior living complex, while others just cover personal care assistance. Contact your state’s Medicaid office to learn more about the programs available in your state and how to apply.

Veteran benefits can cater to assisted living costs

People who have served our country can get benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) low-income seniors can use them to pay for the cost of assisted living. Non-Service Connected Improved Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance is the name of these benefits (or simply, Aid and Attendance).

From 2019, the program provides up to $1,881 monthly support for a single veteran and up to $2,230 for a married veteran.

Non-Medicaid state programs

If you require assistance with some assisted living costs, many Non-Medicaid State programs are still available. Keep in mind that the names and services of these programs may vary based on the state and other prerequisites and criteria.

Non-Medicaid state programs may be able to help cover the cost of assisted living accommodation, or older persons may be eligible for other types of financial assistance.

These programs typically provide financial support or the chance to make specific home improvements for independent living.

Read also: Understanding Assisted Living Costs – A Complete Guide

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost: Options Available For Low-income Seniors

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