Paying for Assisted Living


I help many clients with questions about paying for long-term care and specifically, assisted living.

Assisted Living” has no single definition. It generally means housing in a communal setting together with support services to help individuals with the activities of daily living. These activities may include eating, bathing, dressing, using the restroom, getting in and out of a bed or chair, walking, medication management, food preparation, and household tasks.

When people need additional help to perform these activities but not the 24-hour medical oversight provided in a nursing home, Assisted Living is appropriate. However, the costs are high. According to the latest Genworth cost of care survey, the average 2015 cost of Assisted Living in metro-Atlanta was around $36,700 per year, or $3,060 per month. Anecdotally, I have observed even higher costs when additional services are added to the basic care provided by the assisted living facility.

Not surprisingly, many worry about how to pay for this. Medicaid for long-term care in Georgia only covers skilled nursing care, so most individuals in assisted living are not eligible. This leaves three options for payment:

  1. Private Pay (i.e. paying out of pocket)
  2. Long-term Care Insurance
  3. VA Pension for eligible veterans and spouses of deceased veterans

As you can see, there are not many options. In some circumstances, especially when people do not have sufficient savings to cover their costs for a long period of time, long-term care insurance can be invaluable. When that is not an option or doesn’t cover everything, the VA benefit can provide an additional $1,000 – $2,000 or so per month, depending on whether the veteran or spouse is applying, and the number of dependents. However, there are many financial requirements to VA eligibility, and the VA must determine that applicants lack “sufficient means” to pay for their own care, based on their income, assets, and life expectancy.

Our firm is proud and honored to help aging individuals and their families navigate the ins and outs of paying for long-term care, including assisted living. If you have any questions for yourself, a loved one, a friend, or a client, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to help.

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia


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