Assisted Living in South Carolina
South Carolina has moderate winters and plenty of sunny days, which may appeal to active seniors in assisted living who enjoy golf or the beach. Out of the state’s estimated 5,190,705 residents, an approximate 18.2% are 65 and over. This demographic may choose South Carolina as a retirement destination due to its tax-friendly status. Social Security benefits aren’t taxed, and there’s a sizable deduction on other types of retirement income.
The cost of living in South Carolina is 88.5 — lower than the national median living cost of 100. In addition, assisted living expenses are around $3,612 per month in South Carolina, which is more affordable than the national average cost of $4,500. There are also world-class medical facilities in South Carolina, including the top-ranked MUSC Health University Medical Center.
This guide contains financial data and comparisons for assisted living costs in South Carolina. There’s information about financial assistance, including state waiver programs and how to apply. Also included is a list of free and low-cost services and resources geared towards South Carolina seniors.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in South Carolina?
As reported by the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost per month for assisted living in South Carolina is $3,612. This is more affordable than the national median cost of $4,500. North Carolina has an estimated monthly assisted living cost of $4,010, and Tennessee’s is $4,105. Georgia has a per-month assisted living cost that’s on par with South Carolina’s, at $3,535.
The United States
The Cost of Assisted Living in South Carolina’s Top Cities
Average assisted living costs vary throughout South Carolina. Sumter’s is lowest at $2,663, while Hilton Head’s $4,500 average monthly assisted living cost is the highest. In between, there’s Myrtle Beach at $4,070 and Charleston at $3,945. In Spartanburg, monthly assisted living costs are around $3,600 — which could be considered an estimated median for the state. Columbia has an estimated per-month assisted living cost of $3,270.
The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Care
There are multiple types of care available to South Carolina seniors. In addition to assisted living ($3,612), there’s adult day health care ($1,408) for older adults who want or need daytime supervision and socialization. Homemaker services ($4,433) are designed to assist seniors who stay in their own homes, along with home health aide ($4,481) services. A semiprivate room at a nursing facility ($7,285) is an option for seniors who require a high level of care.
Adult day health care
Home health aide
Nursing facility (semiprivate)
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Assisted Living in South Carolina?
South Carolina’s Healthy Connections Medicaid program does not directly cover assisted living costs. It does cover a wide range of health care services, and there are associated programs that can help make assisted living expenses manageable for seniors.
The Community Choices Waiver (CCW) provides respite care and limited skilled nursing care at home or in a residential senior living facility, along with some medical supplies and services. There’s also the Optional State Supplement (OSS) program for seniors in approved Community Residential Care Facilities (CRCF) which may include assisted living.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living in South Carolina
Through Healthy Connections, South Carolina seniors can receive many physical and mental health services. Although assisted living room and board aren’t covered, some of the coverage areas that may relate to seniors in these communities include:
- Primary care physician visits
- Specialty visits
- Lab and X-ray services
- Behavioral health
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Medical equipment
- Medical transportation services
As mentioned, there’s also the Community Choices Waiver (CCW). This waiver covers care for seniors in an assisted living facility who meet eligibility requirements and are deemed in need of nursing-level care. Seniors can also use the Optional State Supplement (OSS) to cover expenses such as assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and housekeeping at licensed and approved residential care facilities.
Waiver Programs for Assisted Living in South Carolina
Community Choices Waiver (CCW)
The Community Choices Waiver (CCW) is a state-led program for seniors enrolled in the South Carolina Healthy Connections program. It covers personal care, respite care, transportation and some types of medical equipment, including incontinence supplies.
Seniors who already receive South Carolina Medicaid benefits can speak to their caseworker to apply for the Community Choices Waiver. Assistance can be also obtained by phone toll-free at (888) 549-0820, or seniors can visit their local Medicaid office. For seniors who haven’t yet applied for the Healthy Connections Medicaid program, applications can be submitted online, via phone at the above toll-free number or at a local office.
Optional State Supplement (OSS)
The Optional State Supplement (OSS) covers care costs at Community Residential Care Facilities (CRCF). Along with full Medicaid coverage for seniors through Healthy Connections, the OSS program provides a cash payment to the assisted living facility.
To qualify for the Optional State Supplement, applicants must be 65 or over or blind or disabled. Seniors must live at an approved assisted living facility and be a citizen or lawful resident. In addition, applicants must be residents of South Carolina. Each applicant’s income cannot exceed $1,526, and resources cannot exceed $2,000 to qualify for this supplement.
Seniors can apply for the OSS by completing and submitting the online application, which is the quickest way. In addition, applications can be done in person at local county offices. For seniors who prefer to mail a paper application, the address is SCDHHS-Central Mail, P.O. Box 100101, Columbia, SC 29202-3101.
Eligibility for Medicaid in South Carolina
To qualify for the South Carolina Healthy Connections Medicaid program, seniors must not exceed income and asset limits. For single applicants, annual income cannot exceed $13,590 and assets cannot exceed $8,400. For two-person households with one applicant, annual income cannot exceed $18,310 and the applicant’s assets cannot exceed $2,000. Two-person households where both are applying have an annual income limit of $18,310 and asset limit of $12,600.
2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in South Carolina
|Income Limits*||Asset Limits|
|Two-Person Household(Only One Person Applying)||$18,310||$2,000 for applicant|
(Both People Applying)
There are several other eligibility requirements seniors must meet for South Carolina Medicaid approval, such as:
- Seniors must be citizens of the United States, legal aliens or permanent residents
- Seniors must be citizens of South Carolina
- Seniors must be age 65 or over or blind and/or disabled
Applying for Medicaid in South Carolina
Seniors who want to apply in person can visit their local county Medicaid office, hospital or federally qualified rural health center. Paper applications can be mailed to SCDHHS-Central Mail, P.O. Box 100101, Columbia, SC 29202-3101.
Where to Go to Get Help
Seniors who need assistance applying for Medicaid have several options. The following agencies and organizations help older adults with benefits applications and may also provide other senior services:
|SC Thrive||(800) 726-8774||Seniors who need help applying for the Healthy Connections Medicaid Program can contact SC Thrive through the website or toll-free number. This organization also provides assistance with other programs and helps with state and federal tax preparation.|
|Healthy Connections||(888) 549-0820||Another way seniors can get help with their application is by calling South Carolina Healthy Connections. There are representatives available to help by phone during regular business hours.|
|Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)||Online||At this website, South Carolina seniors can find their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). These agencies provide many services to seniors, including but not limited to help applying for the South Carolina Healthy Connections Medicaid program.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Assisted Living in South Carolina?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in South Carolina. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not considered to be “clinical settings’ and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, you can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
For more information about Medicare visit medicare.gov.
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in South Carolina?
|How to Apply||How It Works|
|Aid and Attendance||Apply online at va.gov.||If you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.|
|Reverse Mortgages||Research and learn about the different types at ftc.gov||If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.|
|Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance||Learn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at acl.gov.||While those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.|
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in South Carolina
Seniors in South Carolina who are interested or already living in assisted living can access many resources and support services throughout the state. Below are some senior-specific resources that can help with everything from understanding VA benefits to getting free legal help.
|South Carolina Senior Centers||(800) 868-9095||Through the GetCareSC website, seniors can enter their ZIP code to find senior centers in their area. These centers provide opportunities for socialization outside of assisted living and offer enriching activities and wellness programs.|
|SCIWAY – Senior Transportation Resources||Online||SCIWAY is a valuable online resource for all South Carolina residents, including seniors. This website has a directory of public transportation departments in the state, where seniors age 65 and over or those who are disabled can receive free or reduced-rate fares.|
|South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs||(803) 734-0200||Senior veterans can find their local VA office through the main state VA department. There’s a weekly newsletter seniors can sign up for, along with advocacy services and benefits assistance. Caregivers and family members of older veterans can also find support through this department.|
|AARP South Carolina||(888) 687-2277||AARP South Carolina has local events for seniors, ranging from fitness classes to educational seminars. There are free tax prep services and safe driving courses, and the website is filled with articles on senior-specific topics.|
|Legal Assistance for Seniors||(800) 868-9095||The South Carolina Department of Aging provides legal assistance for the state’s senior population, which includes legal representation and counseling services.|
|Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)||(800) 868-9095||The SCSEP program helps low-income seniors obtain employment, which can help them manage assisted living costs. Seniors age 55 and over may qualify for this job-placement program. The jobs are local, so older adults don’t need to travel far from their assisted living community for work.|
COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in South Carolina
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including scdhec.gov/covid19 and cms.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/13/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in South Carolina
Assisted living facilities in South Carolina are regulated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), specifically the Health Facilities Licensing office. All facilities must follow the rules and meet or exceed standards in many areas, including resident care plans, building capacity, security and staff training.