In addition to the other home modification resources discussed on this site, the following options may be available in some geographic areas to help elderly individuals remain living in their homes.
Area Agencies on Aging Funds
The Older Americans Act provides funds for the elderly that are distributed through the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). This network of some 600 agencies has flexibility in how these funds are used. Some AAA may offer eligible seniors small grants to make home modifications and repairs. Inquire with your local AAA.
Money Follows the Person (MFP)
This is a Medicaid program designed for individuals who currently live in nursing homes and wish to return to living at home or in the home of their family. The MFP program provides up to $45,000 for home modifications, such as widening doorways, lowering cabinets, and addition of wheelchair ramps. However, there are multiple requirements to be eligible. First and foremost, one must be an active participant in the MFP program, which means they must be on Medicaid and be living in a nursing home. They must exhaust other Medicaid waivers funds available for home modifications first and there also must be funds available in this program. Funds are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Finally, they must have authorization for the modification from the Department of Medical Assistance. Learn more about the Money Follows the Person program.
*Please note, the funding for Money Follows the Person expired in September of 2016. While states can use their available funding through 2020, some states have depleted all of their funding. A bill has been proposed that will reauthorize MFP funding, but as of June 2018, it had not yet passed.
Weatherization Assistance Programs (WAP)
This federal program via the U.S. Department of Energy provides assistance to low income homeowners to improve their home’s weather resistance, thereby reducing their energy consumption and lowering their monthly utility bills. The program is not intended to pay for home modifications for the elderly or disabled. But some weatherization improvements overlap with disability modifications. For example, in the process of replacing doors and windows to improve insulation, the replacement materials can also be selected to improve the home’s accessibility. Narrow, drafty doorframes can be replaced with wider, wheelchair friendly ones. On average, $6,500 is spent per eligible applicant. Read more about the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Veterans-Directed, Home and Community Based Services
This program is referred to as VD-HCBS for short. It is designed to help veterans that potentially require nursing home care, to remain living in their homes. To achieve that goal, the program helps pay for home modifications or environmental accessibility adaptations that enable a disabled veteran to maintain their independence. Read about VD-HCBS eligibility requirements and benefits.
A reverse mortgage is a loan that seniors take against their home’s equity. Similar to a home equity loan except it differs in that it does not have to be repaid until the home is sold or the owner moves out for a period of one year. This makes a reverse mortgage a good resource for those seniors who wish to make home modifications in order to remain living in their home or “age in place.” Learn more about reverse mortgages.
Regional and Other Options
There are many local programs that provide assistance for home modifications. This list will continue to grow over time.
Ability 360’s Home Modification Project – Formerly referred to as AZ Bridge to Independent Living Grant – A home modification grant matching program for disabled Arizona residents living in Maricopa county, which includes Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, and Mesa.
Homemods.org – Based at the University of Southern California, this non-profit effort promotes independent living for persons of all ages and abilities by offering an online training program. Although they do not provide direct financial assistance, they serve as an home modification information clearinghouse.
Tax Deductions and Credits
Almost all home modifications or improvements made to accommodate aging-related disabilities can be tax deductible in some fashion. The purchasing cost of any special equipment — for example, hand rails and kitchen and electrical fixtures as well as the service costs for the installation of this equipment — is tax deductible as a medical expense. You can learn more about medical expenses deductions here.
The cost of permanent modifications made to a home that increase the value of the home are also tax deductible within certain parameters. For example, if one builds an accessory apartment, sometimes called an in-law apartment, to accommodate the move-in of an elderly parent, typically the value of the home will increase. If the modification costs $20,000 and the value of the home is increased by $15,000, then $5,000 can be considered a medical expense.