For many Americans approaching retirement age, it’s a very real worry: Will there be enough in Social Security to cover my needs? How can I get the most to support myself? And what about my spouse? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles that address these concerns, and usually they involve an enormous amount of trepidation and volumes of paperwork if you choose to apply on your own.
When people think of nursing home expenses, they often think solely of Social Security. But there is also something called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. In some situations, SSI can be combined with Social Security benefits to help buffer expenses, particularly for those who might have any type of disability. Breaking down these two programs and how they work allows for a better understanding of whether they can successfully help cover the expense of a nursing home.
Social Security is an entitlement program, which simply means that one is owed that funding based on their employment history. Employers, too, must pay into the Social Security System. In both cases, the funding is collected through taxes during the working years and resides in a special trust fund. The amount that is later paid out is calculated on work history (or that of a spouse or parent), with the dollar amount being calculated on his or her earnings. Social security does not have an income or resource limit, but you do have to have enough years in the workforce—a large factor in determining the amount received. Social Security is also not affected by assets owned, other income, or who you live with and where you live. As an added benefit, Social Security also has specific disability income (SSDI) for those who meet the federal definition of “disabled.” Unfortunately, that definition and the terms of a disability can prove just as big a question as funding for nursing home care.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is for people with limited income and resources, as well as those who do not have much in terms of personal assets. The SSI program is paid by general tax revenues and not from the Social Security trust funds. SSI amounts are based on State and Federal regulations and law, considering what state a person resides in, who lives at the residence, and the income that the person receives. Again, those with disabilities may find some additional funding available through SSI.
For those who are 65 or over and receiving Supplemental Security Income, you may also consider applying for Medicaid that may assist in paying for nursing home care. Medicaid is a federally-funded program for low-income Americans that is responsible for paying for room, board, nursing care, and social activities in nursing facilities.
Social Security by the Numbers
The average amount received from Social Security is $1,342 for an individual, and less than double that for a couple. If a person is able to combine it with SSI, that average increases by about $700 ($1,000 for a couple) for an average sum of $2,042. It is also worth noting that SSI can only be applied to Social Security if a senior is 65 years of age and is on a needs-based program for those who are blind, elderly, or disabled with very low income and limited assets. Even with SSI and Social Security combined, this figure will be far short of the cost of assisted living, and dramatically insufficient if one spouse was in a nursing facility while another was home covering living expenses.
Consider the average cost of a nursing home, which is a staggering $6,000 per month, contrast it with the income received from Social Security and/or SSI, and families will find themselves in a desperate situation fast.
Securing an Advocate
Having explained the two types of funding, what’s the answer to the eternal question of “Will I have enough?” Unfortunately, this will be a challenge for many people. One thing that is certain: If you’re hoping to pay for nursing home expenses using Social Security or SSI, and combine disability benefits, it will be imperative that every dollar you could receive is made available to you.
To explore your eligibility of benefits with Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income, check out the Disability Experts of Florida, and our free guide to applying for SSI benefits and those offered by Social Security in the Sunshine State. With over 100 years’ experience in Florida, you can feel confident and prepared with an expert at your side. Disability Experts of Florida will be there every step of the way to organize your medical documents, complete paperwork, present your case—and cut through all the red tape.
Let us be your advocate and help you prepare and get the most for your nursing home care expenses.