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Ask After55: Will Medicare Help Pay for Senior Housing?

Senior housing is always a hot-button topic, especially as prices continue to surge. In 2015, senior living costs increased 1½ times quicker than the rate of inflation, or 2.7% year over year across the country.

While there are many concerns with these higher prices, a senior’s ability to pay tops that list. Many wonder if they should empty their bank accounts and retirement savings to cover the cost or seek outside sources. A commenter on the blog recently posed related questions:

“Will Medicare help pay for senior housing? What if I’m disabled?”

Here’s what we learned to answer those questions.

Coins and house outline, to illustrate question of medicare to pay for senior housing.

Medicare and Senior Housing

Medicare does not pay for most of the costs related to senior housing, such as assisted living and long-term care facilities. It will, however, pay for certain types of assistance, such as home health care or a skilled nursing facility.

Generally, Medicare Part A covers hospital care, hospice, home health and skilled nursing care only under certain conditions. As for senior housing, Medicare covers residency in a nursing home for a short period of time as long as custodial care isn’t the only type of care that you need. Certain conditions must be met, such as:

  • – The residence must be a certified skilled nursing facility.
  • – Your care must be medically necessary (nursing services, therapy, etc.).
  • – You had a prior hospital stay of at least three days.
  • – You must be admitted to a nursing facility within 30 days of a hospital stay.
  • – You must be 65 years old or older.

Once these conditions are met, Medicare will pay for some of your fees for up to 100 days:

  • – 100 percent for the first 20 days.
  • – You pay up to $140 per day, and Medicare will pay the rest from days 21 through 100.

After this time, it is your responsibility to pay for your care. If you are admitted to hospice care, which is also long-term, Medicare will only cover it if you have a terminal illness and are not expected to live more than six months. This plan is not the best solution for those seeking senior housing or long-term care.

Medicare and Disabled Housing

Much like the coverage available for senior citizens, Medicare does not provide assistance for long-term housing needs for persons with disabilities. If you are under 65 and disabled, you can enroll in Medicare without paying premiums and receive the same benefits.

Coins and house outline, to illustrate question of medicare to pay for senior housing.

Two Options: Medicaid, Veterans Aid

Even though Medicare doesn’t cover most housing costs for the elderly or disabled, there are other government entities with programs to help:

Medicaid: This government assistance program can be used to pay for long-term nursing home care throughout the United States. In some states, Medicaid can be used to pay for assisted living and alternatives to nursing homes.

Veterans Assistance: U.S. military veterans may be eligible for aid if they meet certain conditions. They can receive a basic pension, housebound benefit or assistance daily.

Ask After55 Your Senior Living Questions

This article is the first in a regular series answering your questions about senior living. correspondent Mary Beth Adomaitis will explore topics suggested by readers. There are two ways you can submit a question:

  • – Comment on this article (question will be displayed publicly).
  • Fill out this form (question will be sent to us privately).


About Mary Beth Adomaitis

Mary Beth Adomaitis is a professional freelance writer living in Southern California. A native Ohioan, Mary Beth moved to the West Coast in 1995. When she married her husband two years later, she became partially responsible for her elderly mother-in-law, Julia.

As time went on, Mary Beth became Julia’s primary caregiver, overseeing many aspects of her life, including medication management and daily living activities. When Julia became ill and moved into long-term care, Mary Beth dedicated herself to making sure her mother-in-law received the best care possible. This meant dealing with Social Security and Medicare regularly, as well as nursing home administrators, nurses and other caregivers.

It was at this time that Mary Beth began writing about how to find the best care for loved ones, as well as how to manage the financial and government regulations regarding long-term care. Today, although Julia has passed away, Mary Beth still devotes much of her time to writing about senior living. Her blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, focuses on elderly living in the 21st century.

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  • Mary Beth Adomaitis

    About Mary Beth Adomaitis:

    Mary Beth Adomaitis a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has written about senior topics for several senior living websites. She also has a blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, which was started after her mother-in-law passed away in 2015. It focuses on elderly living in the 21st century. Mary Beth has been a writer/journalist for more than 25 years, lending her talents to companies such as The Los Angeles Times, where she also served as a copy editor and graphic designer.


    1. Hi Mary Beth,
      My husband and myself are both permanently disabled, on social security disability, and Medicare.
      We are respectively 64 and 60yrs old. A friend of mine was able to hire her daughter to be her Home Health Aide. Her daily needs were bathing, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and other misc chores. I think Social Security paid her daughter a monthly check? How would we apply for this service? Our youngest daughter is a certified nurse assistant, in her 3rd year of nursing school, working towards her BSN.
      Seeing as we aren’t getting better, with ongoing surgeries and slow recoveries, are we qualified to get a home health aide? I’ve had over 44 surgeries, my husband has had at least 25. Knees, shoulders, bone grafts, muscle and tissue grafts, and life threatening infections are just the condensed version of our story. Can you shed some light on our situation?
      Thank you,
      Lynn Perez

      • In my experience with elderly relatives in this type of situation, it was not Medicare that paid for in home health. There were state programs that helped. Call your local hospital or dr office for some guidance to get started. I do not know how it works.


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