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Aging with Disability: Weighing Your Long-Term Care Options

If you have a physical disability, it’s likely that you’ll need long-term care services someday. While the average American uses 1.5 to 2.5 years of long-term care service, adults with disabilities often need more intensive care for longer. This dramatically spikes the cost of long-term care. At the same time, people with disabilities tend to have fewer financial resources to pay for the care they need.

In this complex long-term care landscape, it’s important for people with disabilities to start planning for their future long-term care needs well in advance. By assessing your long-term care options now, you can create a financial plan that balances your care needs with your overall financial picture.

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Saving Money with Family Caregiving

Relying on family caregiving is the preferred option for many, especially people living on a tight budget. Medicaid may even pay family caregivers of low-income seniors under self-directed care programs.

Family care is a good choice when you need assistance with daily activities but don’t require medical services. However, keep in mind that while family caregiving doesn’t cost money, you may need to make home modifications that allow you to continue living at home. Veterans can receive help paying for home modifications under the Specially Adapted Housing and Special Housing Adaptation grant programs, but non-veterans may need to use loans to pay for home modifications.

Where to Turn for Long-Term Care

Eventually, you may need a higher level of care than your loved ones can provide. When that day arrives, you’ll need to decide between in-home care and assisted living. While in-home services are more affordable for part-time care, people who need a full-time caregiver may save money with assisted living.

If you do choose in-home care, companies like Aspen Senior Care, an in-home personal care agency,  help make sure seniors get the most bang for their buck. Cindy Harris, an LTC Claim Specialist with Aspen, works with LTC insurance companies and helps pay claims on their clients’ behalf.

Aid and attendance benefits help veterans cover the costs of long-term care. However, others must look to insurance, Medicaid, or private pay to cover long-term care costs. Unfortunately, a disability can make it difficult if not impossible to qualify for long-term care insurance. Another way that you can pay for long-term care is through a home sale. Research your area’s housing market to learn how much you’re likely to earn from selling your home.

If paying out-of-pocket isn’t an option, it may be time to talk to a financial advisor about spending down for Medicaid. With tools like ABLE accounts and Special Needs Trusts, people with disabilities can protect their assets while qualifying for Medicaid. However, due to Medicaid look-back rules, it’s important to plan your Medicaid spend-down well before you need care.

It’s equally important to search for an assisted living facility before you need one. While all assisted living facilities provide the same basic services like personal care assistance and meals, amenities like social activities and religious services vary from community to community. Finding an assisted living facility that you like can take time, so start touring communities now while you’re able.

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What About Medicaid Estate Recovery?

If you have a spouse or children at home, you may worry about losing your house if you use Medicaid to pay for long-term care. While it’s true that Medicaid can seek reimbursement for expenses under estate recovery, Medicaid won’t recover costs if you have a surviving spouse or minor child. That means you don’t have to worry about your family ending up homeless if you move to a care facility. Medicaid also won’t seek estate recovery from a home where a sibling caregiver or child caregiver has lived for one or two years, respectively.

There’s no easy answer to the question of how to pay for long-term care when you’re disabled. While Medicaid will cover the costs, qualifying can be complicated and rules vary from state to state. Rather than trying to navigate this complex process on your own, reach out to financial professionals who can help you prepare for your long-term care needs.

Jillian Day created 508Assist to help people all across the web make their sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. She was inspired to start 508Assist when a close family member, who happens to have a visual impairment, had trouble finding a dinner recipe online that he could read easily. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, Jillian enjoys being outside, whether she’s fishing, hiking, or Geocaching with her family.