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What happens to your Social Security when you go to a nursing home?

A lot can change when you first enter a nursing home. From your daily routines to your monthly expenses, it’s a big adjustment to get used to. One of the biggest changes you’ll experience is to your Social Security Income. If you’re unsure of the financial repercussions of entering a nursing home, the professionals at Winkler Legal, LLC can help. Learn all about what happens to your Social Security benefits after entering long-term care below.

What happens to your Social Security when you go to a nursing home?

Social Security income is critical to the well-being of our seniors and loved ones. Roughly 1 in 6 United States residents collected SSI benefits in 2020, and 97 percent of the elderly either currently receive SSI or will receive it. According to the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), the maximum SSI amount for 2021 is $794 a month. However, that number can drop dramatically based on your living situation, and in some cases, maybe terminated completely. If you enter a medical facility such as a hospital or nursing home where Medicaid covers more than half the cost of your care, your monthly SSI benefits can be reduced to $30 or less based on your income. This reduction is significant, and can often leave seniors struggling to pay bills. 

How do different facilities affect your Social Security Income benefits?

The main factor that affects your SSI when living in a nursing home is whether or not Medicaid is paying for over half of it. However, it’s important to note that not all nursing homes will accept Medicaid. Different facilities will have different costs and effects on your SSI, and it’s key to understand the variations. 

Nursing homes that are covered by Medicaid

If Medicaid is paying for over half the cost of your care, your SSI benefits will be reduced to $30 a month for individuals or $60 a month for couples. While some states will supplement this amount or let you keep more, those reductions are rarely significant. However, your SSI benefits will only be reduced if you’re in a facility that is capable of providing inpatient care, and will not cover the cost of non-medical facilities such as assisted living facilities. 

Public nursing homes that are not covered by Medicaid

If you are living in a public medical facility or nursing home that is not paid for by Medicaid, you will not be eligible for any SSI benefits.

Private nursing homes

Many private care facilities do not accept Medicaid. In these instances, your SSI benefits may not be reduced. However, if you’re able to afford a private facility, you may not be eligible for SSI benefits as it is. 

Nursing home care for spouses

In the event that your spouse needs to move into a nursing home but you do not, your SSI benefits may still be affected. Instead of receiving the full couple rate of $1,191 per month, you’ll be reduced to the $794 per month rate for individuals. 

What if your stay in a nursing home is short?

In some cases, you may need to go into a hospital or a nursing home for a short time. Fortunately, the SSA has a special rule that preserves SSI benefits for individuals who will be spending no more than 90 days in a medical facility. However, there are several stipulations. In order to save your benefits, you must send the SSA the following:


  • A written statement from your health care provider confirming that your stay in the medical facility will be less than 90 consecutive days
  • A written statement from you or an eligible individual expressing that your current SSI benefits are necessary to keeping your permanent home during your 90 day stay in a medical facility.


In order to guarantee that you do not lose your SSI benefits, it’s critical that you submit this information as soon as you know you’ll be entering a medical care facility for a short-term stay.

Asset protection with Winkler Legal, LLC

There are a variety of ways to protect your assets and ensure your future is comfortable when considering an assisted living facility or a nursing home. At Winkler Legal, LLC, we can help you through the entire process, from picking the right place, to applying for Medicaid on your behalf. Attorney Dirk Winkler has over 20 years of experience in elder law and long-term care planning, and can help you create a comprehensive plan for yourself and your family. Contact us for a free consultation and to learn more about asset protection and long-term care planning today.