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Paying for Care
A number of financial resources may be available to help cover the costs of care for the person Alzheimer's or other dementia. Some may apply now and others in the future.
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For most individuals 65 or older, Medicare is the primary source of health care coverage.
However, private insurance, a group employee plan or retiree health coverage also may be in effect.
If the person with dementia is younger than 65 years old (considered younger-onset Alzheimer's), he or she may have private insurance, a group employee health plan or perhaps retiree medical coverage. If he or she changes policies, check how soon Alzheimer's disease expenses will be covered under the new policy.
If the person with Alzheimer's continues to work during the early stages of the disease, benefits may include paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits and a flexible spending account (allows payment for out-of-pocket medical expenses with pretax dollars, for potential savings of about 20 to 30 percent).
Make sure to:
- Review the employer's benefits handbook
- Ask the benefits specialist what benefits may be available, e.g., the employer may provide paid sick leave or other short-term disability benefits (usually for one year or less)
- Keep written confirmation of all benefits
Benefits from retirement plans can provide critical financial resources, even if the person with dementia hasn't reached retirement age.
Retirement plans include:
- Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
Pension plans typically pay benefits before retirement age to a worker defined as disabled under the plan's guidelines.
The person with dementia also may be able to withdraw money from his or her IRA or employee-funded retirement plan before age 59 1/2 without paying the typical 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. This money usually will be considered regular income, and taxes will have to be paid on the amount withdrawn.
In that case, if withdrawals can be delayed until after the person leaves work, income taxes due will likely be less because he or she will probably fall into a lower income tax bracket. Social Security benefits are also available before retirement age if Social Security disability requirements are met.
Personal assets — belonging to the person with dementia or other family members — can be sources of income to help pay for care. These include:
- Investments, such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts and real estate
- Personal property, such as jewelry or artwork
For example, the equity in a home could be converted into income, through a process called a reverse mortgage. This is a type of home equity loan that allows a person age 62 or older to convert some of the equity in his or her home into cash while remaining the homeowner. The amount the person is eligible to borrow is generally based on the person's age, home's equity and lender's interest rate. Reverse mortgages do not have an impact on Social Security or Medicare benefits, but they may affect qualifying for other government programs.
Learn about veteran benefits.
Call 1.800.827.1000 or visit www.va.gov.
In addition to Medicare, the person with dementia may qualify for a number of public programs. These programs provide income support or long-term care services to people who are eligible. This includes Social Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for workers younger than 65, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, veteran benefits, and tax deductions and credits.
Many community organizations provide low-cost or even free services, including respite care, support groups, transportation and home-delivered meals. You also may consider informal care arrangements using family, friends, neighbors, faith communities and volunteer groups.
Help Is Available
The Alzheimer's Association can connect you with low-cost or free community support services.
Benefits Check-Up helps you find benefit programs that can help pay for medications, health care, food, utilities and more.
Benefits.gov can help you find out which government benefits you may be eligible to receive.
Department of Veterans Affairs has information on government benefits available to those who served in the military.
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information is a government site that helps you plan for long-term care needs and find services.