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Disability Benefits
Can Social Security Disability Benefits Pay for Assisted Living?

The chances of becoming disabled are greater than most care to admit. For those living with a form of disability, you have options to use the disability benefits to pay for assisted living.

You can get Social Security benefits if you cannot work due to a medical condition that is likely to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires a strict definition of disability. Know that Social Security does not give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability.

Family Members May Qualify for Disability Benefits

Family members of disabled workers may qualify to receive money from Social Security based on your work. Here's how:

  • If the spouse is 62 or older
  • Spouse, at any age, is caring for your child (younger than 16 years of age or disabled)
  • Your unmarried child, including an adopted child, and some cases a stepchild or grandchild (child younger than age 18 or younger than 19 if in elementary or secondary school full-time)
  • Your unmarried child, age 18 or older, lives with a disability that started before age 22. (The child's disability also must meet the same definition of disability as for adults.)

Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Social Security Disability

Below are medical conditions that may qualify you for disability benefits:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Senses and speech issues: Vision and hearing loss, respiratory illnesses, like COPD or asthma
  • Neurological disorders: Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy
  • Mental disorders: Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation
  • Immune system disorders: HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Syndromes: Sjogren's Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome
  • Skin disorders: Dermatitis
  • Digestive tract problems: Liver disease or IBD kidney disease and genitourinary problems
  • Cancer

See the full list of impairments and medical conditions on the Social Security Administration's website.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD)

Social Security Disablility

Social Security Disability Insurance is a program that pays monthly benefits if you become disabled before reaching retirement age and you are not able to work. (Also known as "workers disability.")

Supplemental Security Income (SSI also known as Title XVI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI also known as Title XVI) is a needs-based program that provides a monthly check to persons who are blind, elderly, or disabled. For those who haven't worked enough or not at all in the recent years may not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSI is the only program available - but it has very low-income and asset limits.

Notes:

  • The minimum age to collect SSI is 65 unless the individual is blind or disabled.
  • It can take 4-6 months to start receiving checks following an application.
  • There are no restrictions on how you spend the Supplemental Security Income payments.

Do Social Security Disability Benefits Pay for Assisted Living?

SSI gives needy seniors who have a very limited income and assets the additional monthly income to live on. The benefit amount a senior receives is dependent on the income they have.

The average benefit for SSI is around $700.00 a month. This amount alone will not pay the cost of assisted living. Know that a person can continue to receive the benefit as long as they are financially eligible. The person can also receive a state supplement to the federal SSI payments. It's called State Supplementary Payments (SSP) or Optional State Supplements (OSS). These amounts and eligibility requirements differ from state to state.

The following states do not pay a supplement to people who receive SSI: Arizona, Northern Mariana Islands (territory), North Dakota, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

Learn more and understand Supplemental Security Income SSI Benefits -- 2013 Edition.

As seniors receive benefits directly from the government, they can apply those dollars towards any need they have including home care, adult day care, assisted living or home modifications to enable aging in place.

Other ways seniors use SSI:

  • For In-home care
  • For Adult day care
  • For Assisted living
  • For Skilled nursing home care
  • For Alzheimer's and dementia care

Most people who receive Social Security disability benefits will need nursing home care sometimes in life. The type of facility you live in and the length of the stay will determine how much SSI you keep. If you move to a nursing home and Medicaid pays for part of your stay, the SSI monthly payout lowers. If you pay for a private facility, the state may supplement your SSI payment.

Financial Qualifications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Assets cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple.

What's counted as assets:

  • Cash, stocks and saving bonds
  • Other personal property
  • Land on which the owner doesn't reside
  • Life insurance
  • Vehicles
  • Anything else exchanged for cash

Exceptions to countable assets:

  • Home and land, if currently lived in
  • One vehicle, if used regularly
  • Personal effects with sentimental value such as wedding rings
  • Burial spaces and funds for the immediate family

To find out if you qualify, fill out this online screening form designed by the federal government

Get specific information about your situation by talking with a Social Security representative. They pay through two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Learn more about the Social Security disability program.

For information about disability programs for children, refer to Benefits For Children With Disabilities (Publication No. 05-10026). Publications are available online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.