Page Reviewed / Updated – June 23, 2021
If you arrived on this webpage, you likely have questions about Social Security’s benefits for assisted living. You are wondering if Social Security pays for assisted living or if there exists a little-known, secret benefit that can help. You might be confused about the relationship between Supplemental Security Income, Optional State Supplements, Medicaid, nursing homes, and non-medical, residential care. You are likely bewildered by a swarm of acronyms like RCFE, SSI, OSS and NMOHC. Don’t worry, this article will sort it all out for you.

The short answer is yes, in most states, Social Security (through Optional State Supplements) provides financial assistance for persons that reside in assisted living communities provided they meet the eligibility criteria. 

Social Security Definitions & Acronyms Explained

To help in understanding, it is best to provide some definitions and clear up any misperceptions.
  • Social Security – provides retirement income for seniors that have paid into the program, which includes almost everyone that has worked legally in the U.S. More.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – is financial help for persons with limited income and assets. SSI evaluates one’s income and fills in the gap to bring their income up to a pre-set amount. More.
  • Optional State Supplements (OSS) – are state-based financial help provided on top of the federal SSI benefit. OSS benefit amounts differ for each recipient and may vary depending on where they live (i.e. at home or in assisted living). It is under OSS where Social Security provides financial help for assisted living. OSS are also called State Supplementary Payments (SSP). More.
  • Assisted Living – non-medical care, meals, and activities are provided in a group living environment. A staggering number of acronyms are used to essentially describe what is the same thing across the 50 states. A non-exhaustive list follows:

AFC – Adult Foster Care or Adult Family Care ARCH – Adult Residential Care Homes CBRF – Community Based Residential Facilities CCFFH – Community Care Foster Family Homes CRCF – Community Residential Care Facilities NMOHC – Non-Medical Out of Home Care OPNMI – Other Private Non-Medical Institution RCAC – Residential Care Apartment Complex RCF – Residential Care Facilities RCFE – Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly SCU – Special Care Unit

How Optional State Social Security Supplements Work

Read this section before going to your state’s policy.

Optional State Social Security Supplements are complicated and confusing. However, families caring for an aging loved one, need not understand every nuance. In a simplified view, OSS can help seniors pay for assisted living by providing money for assisted living room and board costs.

For persons who are financially eligible, states, through their Optional State Supplements, provide assistance to help pay for the room and board fees associated with assisted living or adult foster care. The benefit is provided as additional money over and above the amount they receive from Social Security SSI. However, the individual does not receive the money directly. Instead, it goes directly to their assisted living community or adult foster care home. Depending on one’s state, the amount of assistance can range from insignificant, just a few dollars per month to over $1,000 per month. Though mentioned previously, it should be re-emphasized that the actual OSS amounts are calculated based on the individual’s income. The table below shows a breakdown of how the Maximum OSS is funded in a sample state that has a Maximum OSS for room and board of $1,200.

Eligibility for Optional State Supplement

Income Limits

Each state sets its own eligibility requirements for their Optional State Supplement (if they offer one). Most states base eligibility on the candidate’s income level. If their income is at or below the federal SSI benefit rate level, then they are also eligible for the Optional State Supplement. Having said that, some states make the income cut-off higher or lower than the federal SSI level. A few states use a different scale entirely; they set the income eligibility level based on a percentage of the state median income. In 2021, to be eligible for the federal SSI benefit, individuals must have less than $794 per month in income.

Place of Residence

To be eligible for OSS for assisted living or adult foster care room and board costs, the recipient must live in an assisted living community or adult foster care home. Many states define assisted living and adult foster care differently. State by state assisted living and adult foster care definitions are available here. Note that this is not written for a consumer audience.

State-by-State Guide

The information below is the best available data as of June 2021. However, when a state provides assistance, the actual amounts may vary slightly from the numbers shown. Unlike the federal SSI rate, OSS amounts are not adjusted annually with a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Again, it should be emphasized that an individual’s actual benefit amount is calculated based on their income. Therefore, any figures in the table below are relative, not fixed amounts.

STATE OPTIONAL STATE SUPPLEMENT / STATE SUPPLEMENTARY PAYMENTS (last updated June 2021)
Alabama Does not offer financial assistance through the form of an Optional State Supplement for SSI recipients that live in assisted living. Search for other financial assistance in Alabama.
Alaska Provides a supplement of approximately $100 / month for assisted living residents. While not related to Social Security, Alaska also has state-subsidized assisted living through its Pioneer Homes program.
Arizona Arizona, unfortunately, does not offer an Optional State Supplement for residents regardless of their living situation. Use our Resource Locator Tool to find other financial help for aging care in AZ.
Arkansas Arkansas does not offer an Optional State Supplement for residents regardless of their living situation.   However, Arkansas puts a cap on the amount that assisted living communities that accept Medicaid can charge Medicaid-eligible residents for room and board. That cap is equal to the federal SSI payment minus a personal needs allowance. Stated another way, if someone is eligible for the federal SSI benefit, that benefit will be sufficient to cover their room and board fees in assisted living. Arkansas is also home to some of the most affordable assisted living in the country.
California California has a Social Security supplement for assisted living residents, which the state refers to as RCFEs or Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly. The state pays approximately $400 per month above the federal SSI payment. In California terminology, this is called the Non-Medical Out-of-Home Care Rate (NMOHC). In addition, California limits the amount assisted living residences that accept Medicaid can charge Medicaid recipients for room and board. That amount is equal to the federal SSI rate plus the CA supplement. Assisted living in CA is considerably less expensive as one moves inland, away from the coast.
Colorado Colorado offers a supplement to the federal SSI rate of approximately $700 per month. Colorado also has an Adult Foster Care program for SSI recipients who prefer a home-like environment to assisted living.
Connecticut Connecticut offers an Optional State Supplement for room and board. However, one should be careful in assuming that all communities are eligible. The state defines what people classically think of as “assisted living” differently. According to the state, “managed residential community” residents are not eligible, but those in “residential care homes” are eligible. Residential care homes include adult foster care and memory care homes for persons with Alzheimer’s / dementia. A free service is available to help find residential care homes in CT. One should inquire closely whether or not the community accepts the OSS. The dollar value of the OSS varies with the day rate of the residential care home and with the income of the beneficiary.
Delaware Delaware offers a state-funded, Social Security supplement for those who are eligible for SSI and who are living in adult residential care arrangements and some assisted living arrangements. This supplement’s amount may be $140 in some cases, but will vary related to the level of care the seniors is receiving. The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is responsible for determining eligibilily, and basic coverage rules are stated in Delaware’s Medical Assistance Program Overview . Free assistance is also available to help families find assisted living within their means.
District of Columbia DC offers a Social Security supplement for room and board in assisted living. The amount of the supplement varies dependent on the number of residents in the assisted living community. Supplements range from approximately $640 to $750 / month. This is high relative to most states, but DC also has some of the highest assisted living costs in the U.S. One might find less expensive assisted living in the surrounding area.
Florida For residents of assisted living communities and adult foster care homes who are eligible for SSI, Florida provides a monthly income supplement intended for room and board fees of approximately $79.   Families might also find more affordable assisted living by moving inland from the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines.
Georgia Unfortunately, Georgia does not have an Optional State Supplement for residents of assisted living or adult foster care homes. It does offer a small supplement for Georgians residing in Medicaid-approved nursing homes.
Hawaii Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Hawaii can include an Optional State Supplement (OSS) for SSI eligible persons in “adult foster or domiciliary care.” These forms of care may also be referred to as assisted living or alternative terms such as Community Care Foster Family Homes (CCFFHs) and Adult Residential Care Homes (ARCHs). Depending on the size and exact facility type, residents may receive a up to $1,445-$1,553 of combined SSI and OSS payments monthly. About $650-$760 of that amount is from the State of Hawaii.
Idaho Idaho provides an Optional State Supplement to SSI-eligible residents who live in assisted living communities or licensed adult foster care home. The supplement is intended for room and board. Note that not every assisted living community is certified to receive the OSS.
Illinois Illinois offers a generous Optional State Supplement for those who can prove that their expenses exceed their SSI payment. However, the definition of who is eligible is strict, and in practice, very few persons benefit from this type of assistance. Fortunately, another option exists for low-income Illinois residents in the form of the Supportive Living Waiver.
Indiana Indiana does offer a Social Security supplementation to Medicaid and SSI recipients who cannot reside in their own home due to age or diability. Also of note, while not Social Security related, Indiana also offers a Residential Care Assistance Program.
Iowa Iowa offers a monthly State Supplementary Assistance (SSA) that provides additional monthly funding and/or Medicaid assistance to those who qualify for SSI. Some people who are over the technical SSI income limits may also qualify. Amounts of financial assistance provided are assessed on an individual basis. Iowa SSA is available for six different categories of people, one of which is those living in Residential Care Facilities (RCFS). Some Iowans may qualify for more than one form of SSA, so its important to explore all of your options. Residential Care Facilities in Iowa are limited to persons that have an order from a doctor prescribing that level of care. Generally speaking, this is a higher level of care than is offered in assisted living, but lower than a nursing home. Assistance is available to help find Residential Care Facilities. Be sure to confirm they accept the state supplement.
Kansas Kansas offers a supplemental payment for those who are living in a Medicaid-approved residential care facility and receiving a reduced SSI payment.
Kentucky Kentucky offers an optional state supplement for seniors who reside in assisted living or foster care homes, or who need in-home care, and do not have sufficient funds to pay for their care. Help is available for families to locate assisted living or adult foster care homes that accept the OSS. However, it is strongly suggested that families confirm with the home or community directly.
Louisiana Louisiana has an Optional State Social Security Supplement (OSS) for some seniors in long-term care, but it’s scope is extrememly limited. This benefit may only yield about $8 of monthly assistance, and many will not qualify for it at all. However, other benfits related to Medicare or Medicaid which are not called OSS may provide some financial support for asssited living or other forms of senior care. The state also has a non-Social Security related program to help low-income elderly individuals, which is called the Permanent Supportive Housing Program.
Maine Maine provides an Optional State Supplement SSI-eligible residents in assisted living. Maine defines assisted living broadly to include not just assisted living homes, but also independent living, Residential Care Facilities, and other Private Non-Medical Institutions. Free assistance is also available in the state to help families locate residences that will meet their care needs and affordability. The exact amount of financial assistance you can receive through OSS Payments is best ascertained by calling or visiting your local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office.
Maryland Maryland’s form of a supplement is formally referred to as the Assisted Living Subsidy. Low-income seniors can receive several hundred dollars per month to help with the cost of assisted living. However, actual subsidy amounts vary with the individual and the county in which they reside. More information.
Massachusetts Massachusetts offers a State Supplement Program (SSP) in addition to the standard SSI benefit. This is intended for low-income elderly adults, and is paid directly to the recipient.
Michigan In Michigan, a Social Security supplement is offered to SSI-eligible persons that reside in “Homes for the aged,” “domiciliary care”, and “personal care” settings. Covered facilities may include assisted living, adult foster care homes, and nursing homes, among other options. You can learn more about Michigan SSI/OSS payment level rates and rules here.
Minnesota Minnesota offers Supplemental Aid for low-income seniors. The payment can be used towards the room and board fees associated with assisted living. Assistance is also available in the state to help families find assisted living that meets their needs and affordability requirements.
Mississippi Unfortunately, Mississippi is one of several states that does not offer a Social Security state supplement for assisted living room and board fees. On the positive side, Mississippi does have some of the least expensive assisted living in the country and help is available finding residences that meet a family’s needs.
Missouri Missouri offers optional Social Security supplements for people residing in a residential care facility or nursing home that is not a Medicaid facility and who would otherwise not be able to pay for care in the facility. The benefit amount depends on which type of residential care the person resides (RCF vs. ALF). The main distinction between RCFs and ALFs is that RCFs residents are typically in the residence for recovery, while persons in ALFs are there for long term stays.
Montana Montana offers residents a Social Security Optional State Supplement to be used towards the cost of room and board in assisted living. Beneficiaries must be financially eligible by qualifying for the federal SSI benefit.
Nebraska For seniors and persons under 65 years of age who are disabled, Nebraska provides a monthly Social Security supplement of approximately to help offset the cost of room and board in assisted living residences. Applicants must be eligible for the federal SSI benefit and reside in an assisted living residence, which the state defines as having at least four occupants receiving care that are not related to the owner of the property. To be eligible, Medicaid must not be paying for care in the facility.
Nevada Nevada adds a monthly Optional State Supplement (OSS) of about $391 to the federal SSI benefit. To receive the benefit, candidates must reside in a “residential facility for groups,” more commonly referred to as an assisted living home or “domicilliary care”. However, only some facilities and some residents will actually qualify for this benefit. Nevada limits the total number of occupants to 16 or less, and some additional financial restrictions apply . One can locate homes here , but be sure to inquire about the number of residents.
New Hampshire New Hampshire refers to assisted living formally as residential care facilities (RCFs). For SSI eligible, RCF residents, the state provides an additional financial supplement to the federal SSI benefit. To search for assisted living in NH, click here. One should inquire with each residence to confirm they accept the OSS.
New Jersey New Jersey offers an Optional State Supplement (OSS) to most of its residents who qualify for SSI. About $30 extra per month is available many seniors who get SSI, and up to about $255 may be offered for those in a licensed residential health care facility. Unfortunately, seniors living in regular assisted living facilities are unlikely to qualify for that extra monthly benefit. Learn more about the different levels and costs of senior living in New Jersey here.
New Mexico New Mexico does offer an Optional State Supplement for adults living in residential care homes. The Optional State Supplement is approximately $100 each month.
New York New York has one of the more generous Optional State Supplements for seniors living in assisted living residences (ALRs). In fact, the state offers a range dependent on the type of assisted living in which one resides and where within the state they reside. Generally speaking, persons with higher care needs and who live in more urban areas are eligible to receive a higher level of financial assistance.
North Carolina North Carolina provides an optional state supplement for adults living in residential care homes.
North Dakota North Dakota does not supplement Social Security payments for room and board for assisted living residents. Some seniors may be able to get help with Assisted Living Costs under a Mediaid waiver instead, but availability is limited. Learn more about North Dakota Assisted Living & Home Care Costs here.
Ohio The Optional State Supplement or Residential State Supplement (RSS), as it is called in Ohio for residents living in adult foster care or group homes, ranges from approximately $506 – $606 per month. Additionally, for Medicaid recipients living in assisted living homes, the state caps their monthly room and board fees equal to the federal SSI benefit. Therefore, Medicaid eligible assisted living residents should receive enough Social Security assistance to pay for their room and board.
Oklahoma Unfortunately, Oklahoma is among the states that do not provide additional Social Security assistance for residents of assisted living communities or other non-nursing home, group care homes. A small monthly supplement of about $40 is available to some recipients of SSI, but it may not be offered to those in assisted living or other housing situations. Enquiring with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) will help you to better understand your options. The cost of assisted living in OK is quite low compared to many states.
Oregon Oregon does not offer a Social Security Optional State Supplement for persons in assisted living / adult foster care situations.
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania has a Social Security Supplement that ranges from approximately $435 – $440 per month on top of the maximum SSI amount of $794. To be eligible, candidates must be SSI-eligible and living either in domiciliary care (what many people think of as adult foster care) or a personal care home (which provides support for four or more persons, but not nursing home level care). In PA, there is also assistance to help families find “dom-care” and personal care homes. Be sure to inquire whether the residence accepts SSI & the state supplement.
Rhode Island Rhode Island provides a supplement to Social Security for assisted living residents for the cost of room and board. The Optional State Supplement (OSS) is approximately $332 per month. Assisted living, in RI, is defined broadly as serving two or more unrelated persons. Therefore, what many think of as adult foster care would also be eligible for this benefit. Those in a “licensed adult community supportive living residence providing advance care” can qualify for an even larger amount, up to $797 monthly. Both of these amounts are in addition to the maximum SSI rate of $794. Unfortunately, the cost of assisted living in RI is on the high side.
South Carolina South Carolina has an Optional State Supplement for federal SSI-eligible persons living in residential care facilities. This supplement is intended only for the room and board portion of the monthly charge at licensed community residential care facilities (CRCFs). CRCFs are defined broadly in South Carolina to include any type of non-nursing residential care servicing two or more persons. Therefore, classic assisted living, as well as many adult foster care homes, are included in the definition.
South Dakota South Dakota supplements the federal SSI benefit for SSI-eligible residents of assisted living communities and adult foster care homes.
Tennessee Tennessee does not offer an Optional State Supplement to the federal SSI benefit regardless of the location in which the individual resides.
Texas Texas offers a small supplemental cash payment for low-income residents of Medicaid long-term care facilities.
Utah Utah does not provide supplemental financial assistance (an Optional State Supplement) for its residents for assisted living room and board. However, there is free assistance available in Utah to help its residents find affordable assisted living.
Vermont Vermont has a Social Security supplement (an Optional State Supplement) for persons who reside in assisted living residences and adult foster care homes. Beneficiaries who are eligible for the federal SSI benefit can receive up to approximately $225 each month to be put toward the cost of room and board in assisted living or adult foster care. Those in assisted living are likely to receive less than the full amount. Unfortunately, assisted living in VT can be expensive.
Virginia The state of Virginia has an Optional Social Security supplement called an Auxiliary Grant (for assisted living or adult foster home residents). This grant helps persons who are SSI-eligible to afford the cost of non-nursing home based residential care, such as assisted living communities or adult foster family homes. The amount granted varies dependent on the income of the applicant and also based on where in Virginia they reside.
Washington The state of Washington does not supplement Social Security (meaning it does not offer an Optional State Supplement) for assisted living residents.
West Virginia West Virginia does not offer an Optional State Social Security Supplement. However, some West Virginians who are elgibile for Mediaid may instead benefit from financial assistance through the Medicaid Personal Care program.
Wisconsin The Optional State Supplement in Wisconsin is called the SSI Exceptional Expense Supplement (SSI-E). Residents of adult foster care home, community-based residential facilities (CBRFs), or residential care apartment complexes (RCACs) (all of which are essentially assisted living) can receive up to approximately $96 per month in additional financial assistance.
Wyoming Wyoming does not supplement or increase residents Social Security benefits if the resident resides in an assisted living or adult foster care home. However, Wyoming residents may be eligible for other assistance to help them afford senior living or to age in place. Search here.

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How to Apply for Optional State Supplements

Prior to applying, it is recommended that one take the federal governments online screening for benefits located here. The application process and administering agencies are different in each state. In some states, eligibility for Medicaid automatically determines eligibility for SSI, which in turn automatically makes one eligible for the Optional State Supplement. In other states, one must apply directly for the Optional State Supplement. Finally, in other states, OSS is administered by the federal Social Security Administration. The table below contains the name of the administrative agency for OSS for each state. Persons interested in applying should contact these agencies. During the application process, one should expect to provide some or all the following documents for evidence of eligibility:
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of Age
  • Proof of Income
  • Proof of Living Arrangements (specifically when living in assisted living or adult foster care)
  • Proof of Citizenship
  • Work History
 
State Optional State Supplement Administering Agency / Application Location
Alabama County Departments of Human Resources
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Local Offices
Arizona N/A
Arkansas N/A
California Social Security Administration Field Offices
Colorado Department of Human Social Services County Office
Connecticut Department of Social Services Field Office
Delaware Social Security Administration
District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance or Social Security Administration Offices
Florida Department of Children and Families Offices
Georgia No application required. Georgia automatically identifies recipients.
Hawaii Social Security Administration Field Offices
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Local Office
Illinois Department of Human Services County Office
Indiana State-administered
Iowa Department of Human Services Local Office
Kansas Automatically generated from Social Security and Medicaid recipients
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Local Office
Louisiana Bureau of Health Services Local Office
Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office
Maryland County Social Services Agencies
Massachusetts Social Security Administration Field Offices
Michigan Social Security Administration Field Offices
Minnesota County Welfare and Human Services Agencies
Mississippi N/A
Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division State Office
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Offices
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Offices
Nevada Social Security Administration Field Offices
New Hampshire Depart. of Health and Human Services, Division of Family Assistance Offices
New Jersey Social Security Administration Offices
New Mexico Department of Human Services County Office
New York Social Security Administration Field Offices
North Carolina County Department of Social Services Offices
North Dakota N/A
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
Oklahoma Department of Human Services Offices
Oregon Department of Human Services Local Offices
Pennsylvania Social Security Administration Field Offices
Rhode Island Department of Human Services Offices
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services County Offices
South Dakota Department of Social Services Local Offices
Tennessee N/A
Texas Social Security Administration Field Offices
Utah Social Security Administration Field Offices
Vermont Social Security Administration Field Offices
Virginia Social Services Local Offices
Washington Social Security Administration Field Offices
West Virginia N/A
Wisconsin Social Security Administration Field Offices
Wyoming N/A

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