Payment Options for Assisted Living in California

Understanding RCFE Care & Services

Assisted living services in California are almost entirely private pay.  Though, there is some governmental assistance available for seniors meeting certain eligibility criteria.  Below you will find brief descriptions regarding payment options & links to additional information.

Personal Resource Options Include:
  • Personal Income/Savings/Assets
  • Reverse Mortgages:  Reverse Mortgages are a special type of home loan that lets homeowners (62 and older) convert the equity in their home into cash. 

Free information is available from the U.S Department of Housing & Urban Development at or by calling The National Council on Aging at (800) 510-0301.  Here the phone is answered by individuals offering counseling on reverse mortgages, providing answers to the following questions:

  • The pros & cons of reverse mortgages
  • The cost associated
  • Other options that may be available

This document contains a thorough overview of long-term care insurance and answers the most pertinent questions you need to get your research started:

  • What is LTC & who can benefit from it?

  • How to choose a qualified agent?

  • Questions to ask before purchase.

  • Rules that apply to agents, benefits & policies, etc.

  • In California only 3 categories of LTC insurance are sold, here they are listed and described.

  • Additional resources - Including HICAP, the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program  This organization provides free counseling on LTC insurance & Medicare & Medicare Supplement Policies.  Consumers should call 1(800) 434-0222 to find the local HICAP project operating in their community.

Government Assistance Options Include:

  • Veterans Benefits:  For free information, call The Department of Veteran Affairs at 1-800-827-1000] California Regional Offices.    Another good resource appears to be VeteranAid.  
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI):   Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, is a benefit paid to qualifying blind, disabled, or 65+ year old individuals having fewer than $2,000 in assets.  As of 2011, the monthly rate for RCFEs from SSI funds is $982/month.  The maximum SSI a qualifying elder can receive is $1,100. (SEE ALSO SSI FAQ)

Not all RCFEs accept SSI clients.  However, after admission, a facility cannot evict a resident for non-payment should the resident's wealth diminish and they be approved for SSI.  The resident must be retained and cared for at the lower SSI rate making the original rate contained in the Admissions Agreement void.  

  • The Assisted Living Waiver Pilot Program (ALW):  Under the ALW program, Medicaid pays for services in assisted living for eligible seniors at a tiered reimbursement rate.  While SSI is used to cover the cost of room & board.  The program is currently only available in the following counties- Sacramento, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Fresno, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.  The number of waiver slots available in each county is limited.  Individuals applying must be deemed nursing home eligible.  For here more on this program,  or contact the state office directly at (916) 552-9105.

  • Medicare:  Medicare does not cover services in assisted living facilities.

Notes in italics represent the views and/or experience of CARR regarding this topic.

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