The staggering costs of long-term care can wreak havoc on your retirement savings.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 27% of Americans turning 65 this year will incur at least $100,000 in long-term-care costs, while 15% will require care costing more than $250,000.
But if you require long-term care or buy a long-term-care policy, you may qualify for a tax deduction that can help offset the cost.
You can deduct unreimbursed costs for long-term care as a medical expense if certain requirements are met. This includes eligible expenses for in-home, assisted living and nursing-home services.
First, the long-term care must be medically necessary. It may include preventive, therapeutic, treating, rehabilitative, personal care or other services.
The cost of meals and lodging at an assisted-living facility or nursing home is included if the main reason for being there is to get qualified medical care.
The care also must be for a chronically ill person and provided under a plan prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner. A person is “chronically ill” if he or she can’t perform at least two activities of daily living — such as eating or dressing — without help for at least 90 days.
This condition must be certified in writing within the last year. Anyone with a severe cognitive impairment, such as dementia, also is considered chronically ill if supervision is needed to protect his or her health and safety.
To claim the deduction, you must itemize deductions on your tax return, which fewer people do since the standard deduction was nearly doubled by the 2017 tax law. Plus, itemized deductions for medical expenses are only allowed to the extent they exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income in 2019.
The tax code also permits a limited deduction for certain long-term-care insurance premiums.
Like the deduction for long-term-care services, this is an itemized deduction for medical expenses. As a result, only premiums exceeding the 10% of AGI threshold are deductible in 2019. The insurance policy itself also must meet certain requirements for the premiums to be deductible.
The deduction has an age-related cap. For 2019, you can deduct up to $5,270 of your annual premiums if you’re older than 70, $4,220 if you’re 61 to 70, $1,580 for ages 51 to 60, $790 at ages 41 to 50 and $420 if you’re 40 or younger.