Long-Term Care Residents Have Financial Rights

By Beverley Laubert, National Ombudsman Program Coordinator: For Complete Post, Click Here…

This month we celebrate National Financial Literacy Month and National Financial Capability Month. Financial planning and literacy are critical for people of all ages and abilities, no matter where you live.
Here are some important considerations if you or a family member are living in a long-term care facility such as a nursing homes or assisted living:

  • Residents should be told up front what the monthly rate is and the rate for any additional services. When those rates change, advance notice should be provided. 
  • Residents who are supported by Medicaid have a right to keep a Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) for items such as clothing. The federal minimum amount is $30 per month but most states have higher amounts. Residents may ask the long-term care facility to keep the PNA in an account but only the resident or a representative they choose may approve the use of that money. If the money adds up over many months, residents should be reminded about the effect on their Medicaid eligibility.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers two guides that are especially helpful to support financial capability: suggestions when considering a financial caregiver and tips for long-term care facilities to prevent financial abuse
  • Residents of nursing homes who are planning to return to their homes should plan ahead to change their address for all sources of income. If Supplemental Security Income is the income source, additional steps are necessary to restore benefits and the nursing home should help.

Residents of long-term care facilities have an independent advocate in the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. In 2020, Ombudsman programs received over 3,000 complaints about billing and around 3,000 complaints about financial exploitation. To ask a question or make a complaint, find your local Ombudsman program on this map.

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