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How To Get Into Assisted Living With No Money Down

Last updated 04/04/2024 by

Benjamin Locke

Edited by

Assisted living offers a blend of independence and support for seniors, but costs can be a barrier. This article explores financial assistance through Medicaid, VA benefits, nonprofit organizations, and in-house financing programs at assisted living facilities, providing pathways to access care with minimal or no upfront costs.
Assisted living is a viable option for seniors who need help with daily activities but still want to keep their independence. However, the cost can be too high for some individuals and families as it can be extremely expensive. Social Security and other retirement savings should ideally be able to cover an elderly person in need of care. However, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes we need assistance. Here are some ways you can access assisted living without money or at a reduced cost.

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Is free assisted living possible?

Yes, obtaining assisted living with little to no funds is possible through various financial assistance. Individuals with limited resources can explore Medicaid programs, which offer coverage for eligible low-income seniors. Veterans may qualify for specific benefits through the VA, which can help cover assisted living costs. Additionally, some nonprofit organizations and assisted living facilities themselves provide financial aid or sliding scale fees to make assisted living more accessible for those in need.


This government program supports individuals with low income and limited assets in covering assisted living costs. Eligibility depends on income and asset criteria. Contact your state’s Medicaid office or a local Area Agency on Aging for application details and service coverage. Note that while Medicaid can cover certain aspects of assisted living (like some health services), it often doesn’t cover room and board costs in many states.

How to find out if you qualify for Medicaid’s assisted living help

To find out if Medicaid will provide assisted living access with no money down, you can follow these steps:
  1. Apply for Medicaid Benefits: Start by applying for Medicaid benefits in your state. You can initiate this process by contacting your state’s Medicaid office. National Council on Aging provides a good starting point for understanding how to qualify for a Medicaid waiver, which is necessary for covering the cost of assisted living.
  2. Check State-Specific Coverage: Medicaid coverage for assisted living varies by state. Most states offer some level of coverage for assisted living services under their Medicaid plan. It’s important to check with your state’s specific plan to see what services are covered. Senior Living suggests checking with your state’s plan for detailed information.
  3. Understand Medicaid’s Eligibility Requirements: Medicaid’s eligibility for assisted living depends on several factors, including income and asset limits. Forbes provides a guide on Medicaid and Assisted Living: State By State Benefits And Eligibility, which can help you understand the requirements and how to apply.
  4. Explore Medicaid Waivers and Spend Down Programs: Some states offer Medicaid waivers that can help cover the cost of assisted living. Additionally, Medicaid spend down programs allow individuals who are over the income limit to become eligible by spending excess income on medical bills. Medicaid Planning Assistance offers insights into how spend down works, including calculations, exemptions, and strategies.
  5. Contact Local Agencies: For personalized assistance and to navigate the application process, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or the Department of Human Services (DHS) office in your state. They can provide guidance specific to your situation and help you understand the options available to you.
In terms of financial assistance for assisted living costs, individuals without personal funds can explore programs like Medicaid, which covers long-term care services for those who meet eligibility criteria based on income and assets.” – Akshaya Srivatsa, CEO and CoFounder of Care Better

Veterans benefits:

The VA offers benefits to veterans and their surviving spouses for assisted living expenses. Eligibility for VA pension and specific qualifications, like severe disabilities, could qualify you for Aid and Attendance benefits, which also cover in-home care.

How to know if you qualify for veterans benefits for assisted living with no money down

To determine if you qualify for veterans benefits for assisted living with no money down, follow these simplified steps:
  1. Qualification Criteria: Benefits are available for disabled or sick veterans, wartime veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses. Eligibility often requires being 65 or older, having a permanent disability, or needing long-term care.
  2. VA Long-Term Care Benefits: The VA provides benefits that may cover nursing home care based on income and service-related disabilities. These benefits can also be applied towards assisted living costs.
  3. Aid and Attendance Benefit: This is a key benefit for veterans and surviving spouses who need help with daily activities. It supplements the VA pension to cover assisted living expenses.
  4. Application Process: Apply for VA benefits through your local VA office. They can guide you through the process and help determine your eligibility for assisted living coverage.
  5. State-Specific Benefits: Some states offer additional benefits for veterans. Contact your state’s veterans affairs office for more information on local support and benefits.

Nonprofit organizations

“There are more assistance and funding options out there, especially depending on where you live. For seniors and their families, the best way to navigate the complexities of financing assisted living arrangements without significant personal savings is to seek help from a financial planner. A financial planner with expertise in retirement planning can help you and your family plan everything, from evaluation of your current situation to relevant tax planning, and looking for assistance programs you can utilize.” – Joe Chappius, Financial Planning & Tax Expert at TaxClimate
There are several non-profits such as charities that could be willing to cover expenses for an assisted living facility:
The Good Samaritan SocietyOffers financial assistance and rent-controlled apartments for seniors.
LeadingAgeNational Association of Nonprofit Senior Services Providers, focusing on affordable housing and healthcare.
Meals on Wheels AmericaKnown for meal delivery, some local programs offer housing-related support.
The Salvation ArmyProvides various senior services, including affordable housing options.
Catholic Charities USAOffers a range of support services for the elderly, including housing assistance.
Lutheran Services in AmericaProvides services to seniors, including affordable housing and assisted living options.
Jewish Federations of North AmericaOffers services to seniors, including housing and care assistance in some communities.
Local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)Provides referrals to programs and organizations assisting with senior housing and care needs.

In house programs

Some assisted living care facilities will finance programs themselves. Some of the more common ways are:
Sliding Scale Fees: Some assisted living facilities offer sliding scale fees based on an individual’s income and assets. This means the cost of care is adjusted to be more affordable for those with lower incomes.
Deferred Payment Plans: Facilities might allow residents to defer some payments until a later date, such as when they are able to sell a home or access other funds. This can help residents move in without a large initial payment.
Scholarship Programs: Certain assisted living communities have scholarship funds available to help cover the costs for residents who cannot afford the full price of care. These are often funded by donations or endowments.


“Navigating the financial stuff without a ton of savings can feel overwhelming. But trust me, there are experts out there who can help. Working with financial advisors and digging into all the resources available can make a huge difference in finding a way to afford the care you need.” – Riley Annen, Property Investor at Companies That Buy Houses


Can I use life insurance to pay for assisted living?

Yes, some life insurance policies offer “living benefits” or can be sold through a life settlement to provide funds for assisted living. Additionally, policies with an accelerated death benefit may allow you to receive a cash advance to use for assisted living expenses. However, not all policies offer these options, and there could be significant variations in the cash value received.

Are there tax deductions available for assisted living expenses?

Yes, if you or your loved one is considered chronically ill and the assisted living expenses are primarily for medical care, some or all of those expenses may be deductible on your taxes. It’s recommended to consult with a tax advisor to understand your specific situation.

Can I use a reverse mortgage to fund assisted living?

Yes, homeowners who are 62 years or older may qualify for a reverse mortgage, which can provide a lump sum, a line of credit, or regular payments that can be used to pay for assisted living. However, this option requires careful consideration of the long-term financial implications.

How do I find assisted living facilities that offer financial assistance or sliding scale fees?

Start by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging or a senior living advisor, who can provide information on facilities in your area that offer financial assistance programs. Additionally, researching online and directly contacting facilities to inquire about their financial assistance options can be helpful.

Key takeaways

  • Medicaid can cover assisted living costs for those with low income and assets, but eligibility varies by state.
  • Veterans and their spouses may qualify for VA benefits, including Aid and Attendance, to help with assisted living expenses.
  • Nonprofit organizations and charities offer various forms of assistance for seniors needing affordable assisted living options.
  • Some assisted living facilities provide in-house financing options like sliding scale fees, deferred payment plans, and scholarship programs to make care more accessible.

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