Page Reviewed / Updated - May 2018
This webpage will help New Jersey residents understand assisted living, home care, and adult day care costs throughout the state. It also explores the payment options and financial assistance programs available to assist in caring for the elderly, be that in residential care or for aging in place at home.
The programs outlined here are comprehensive of what is available from the state of New Jersey for residents of the state, but is not comprehensive of what is available at a national level. When seeking assistance, it is important you search all avenues to find the must suitable option for your situation. To easily search for assistance nationwide, please use our Resource Locator Tool.
Cost of Care Calculator
New Jersey ranks as one of the more expensive states in the nation as far as the cost of assisted living. As of 2018, the national average is $3,670 / month, but in NJ, residents pay over $1,420 / month more, with the average cost being $5,070. However, state residents should take some comfort in the fact that the cost is not consistently high everywhere in the state. The less expensive areas include Ocean City, in and around Atlantic City, and Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton. In these areas the average cost is closer to $4,270 / month. Residents in the most expensive areas should be aware that they live in these areas, so that they might consider neighboring counties as a cost-saving measure. The Trenton area and almost all of Northern New Jersey has monthly cost averaging between $5,370 and $6,170. Caring for individuals with Alzheimer's can further increase the monthly cost of assisted living by as much as $1,270 / month.
In 2018, home care costs in New Jersey are on par with the national average, which is approximately $21.75 / hr. This holds true for the area of Atlantic City. Less expensive home care can be found in the capital city, Trenton, Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, and in Ocean City, where the cost is closer to $19.75 - $20.75 / hr. As with assisted living, the North Jersey area sees the highest hourly cost at approximately $22.50 / hr. For individuals who need more intensive care than a home care worker provides, the option of home health care is also available. On average, this type of caregiving costs approximately $1.75 / hour more than home care. One exception is in Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, where the cost is approximately $19.75 / hour.
Even adult day care in New Jersey well exceeds the national average, which as of 2018, is $71 / day. In fact, it does so by approximately 20%, costing approximately $88 / day. Although even at that cost, adult day care is still one of the most affordable ways to care for the elderly. Surprisingly, the areas that have the most expensive assisted living have some of the most economic averages for adult day care (Trenton and North Jersey). Here, the average daily cost is $83. The most costly adult day care can be found in Ocean City and the Vineyard area, where the average cost is between $94 and $100 / day.
Medicaid is an insurance program designed for low-income individuals and families. A distinction should be made between regular Medicaid (sometimes called State Plan) and Institutional Medicaid (also called Long Term Care Medicaid). Long Term Care Medicaid is more relevant to the elderly and this webpage. Upon creation, Long Term Care Medicaid was intended to pay for nursing home care, and limited personal care, for individuals who required it, but could not afford it. Over time, programs were added that allowed those who were eligible for nursing home care to receive that level of care outside of nursing homes. These programs are referred to as Medicaid Waivers, and in New Jersey, these programs fall under a Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. Please note, in New Jersey, Medicaid for the elderly is also called FamilyCare Aged, Blind, Disabled (ABD) Programs.
Waivers and Programs
The state's recently created Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), a managed care system, falls under the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. Under this system, there are no enrollment caps, meaning anyone who is eligible to receive services can do so. Via this program, supports for a variety of services are provided in the home, assisted living, an adult foster care home, or in adult day care. Benefits include home / vehicle modifications, meal delivery, personal emergency response systems, and personal assistance. Program participants are able to self-direct certain home-based supportive care, such as personal assistance and homemaker services. This means they are able to hire the individual of their liking, including some family members. The Global Options or GO Waiver was absorbed into this waiver in 2014.
Individuals enrolled in Medicaid’s Personal Preference Program (PPP) are able to self-direct their own care. This is a “Cash and Counseling” program in which the recipients are provided with a cash allowance and the flexibility to spend it as they see fit for their care requirements. Common ways funds are spent are for personal care assistance, assistive technology, and home modifications. It should be noted that a fair amount of counseling is also provided to ensure needs are being met. With this option, individuals are able to hire the care provider of their choosing, including family members.
Medicaid Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for NJ Long Term Care Medicaid, an applicant's functional ability, monthly income, and countable resources are considered. A single individual, as of 2018, can have up to $2,250 / month in income. Income in excess can be allocated to a Qualifying Income Trust (QIT). This is a way to effectively lower countable income, helping one to become income eligible for long-term care Medicaid.
An applicant is also permitted countable resources up to $2,000. Note, one’s primary home, up to an equity value of $858,000, given the applicant or their spouse lives in it, is considered exempt. In addition, the applicant’s vehicle is not considered a "countable" asset, provided it is in use by the applicant. Being over the asset limit does not automatically disqualify one from Medicaid. However, one has to proceed with caution, as simply giving away assets or selling them for less than they are worth can result in a period of Medicaid ineligibility. This is because New Jersey has a 5-year look-back period (from the date of Medicaid application) where all asset transfers are considered. If one has gifted assets or sold them cheaply, there will be a period of time that one cannot receive Medicaid benefits. However, there are ways one can spend down excess resources without violating the look-back period. One can pay off debts, such as their mortgage, or make home modifications that increase the safety and accessibility of their home. Examples include remodeling a bathroom to make it wheelchair accessible, adding a chair lift, and installing wheelchair ramps.
If one is over the income and / or resource limit(s), consulting with a Medicaid Planner is highly recommended. Medicaid professional planners are well trained in restructuring finances in order to meet the Medicaid limits without violating any rules.
New Jersey is one of the states at the forefront of providing assistance to elderly persons that are not eligible for Medicaid. There are five programs of great relevance to seniors: JACC, Statewide Respite Care, Alzheimer's Adult Day Care, the Senior Gold and PAAD programs, and Congregate Housing Services. Although not all of these programs provide financial assistance, they may offer services that can enable a senior and their family to save money in other areas, thereby allowing more of their resources to be put toward the cost of care.
1.) JACC, or New Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving, provides non-medical, home support services with the objective of helping an elderly person continue to live independently. Benefits may include adult day care, durable medical equipment, personal care, caregiver training, home modifications, and personal emergency response systems. One may self-direct their care services, meaning they can hire the person of their choosing, including family members.
2.) SRCP, the Statewide Respite Care Program, offers reduced rate or free respite care to help individuals caring for a loved one gain relief from their duties. Respite care is provided in-home or out-of-home. Other services also covered by this program include private duty nursing and homemaker services. For lower income families this can reduce their out-of-pocket home care costs.
3.) For qualified individuals, the Alzheimer's Adult Day Care Services Program (AADSP) will cover as much as 75% of the cost of adult day care several days a week. This equates to approximately $730 / month in financial assistance.
4.) Senior Gold and PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled) are both prescription assistance programs that reduce medication costs, the savings from which can be applied toward home care or assisted living.
5.) Congregate Housing Services Program (CHSP) is somewhat similar to assisted living, but is partly state funded. In these residences, services are provided so that seniors can remain living independently. Services may include housekeeping, personal care assistance, and shopping, though services vary based on location.
Finally, New Jersey is one of four states that provide compensation to family members who take time off work to care for a loved one. Via this program, one may take up to six weeks of paid time off. Read more on Family Leave Insurance.
In addition to the state specific options that help pay for care, there are many non-profit and federal options. Use our Resource Locator Tool to find other programs that help pay for or reduce the cost of care. There are also programs that help veterans with assisted living and there are eldercare loans available in New Jersey.
The relatively high costs for home care and assisted living in New Jersey make finding the right care provider of great importance. Providers should be selected both on the quality of care they provide and the family's ability to continue to afford the provider. This is important as most elderly individuals develop an attachment to their caregivers and are resistant to change. For these reasons, we have partnered to offer a free service that assists families in finding the most affordable care in New Jersey and in neighboring areas out of state. Get help here.