How Couples Can Share Long-Term-Care Benefits

By Kimberly Lankford

| Photographs By Rowan Allan/Rowan Allan

QUESTION: How does a shared-benefit rider for long-term-care insurance work? Does it cost more than regular coverage?

ANSWER: One of the big unknowns with long-term-care insurance is predicting how long you’ll need benefits. Although the average need for care is about three years, you might die before needing any care, or you could have a long-lasting condition, such as Alzheimer’s, and receive care for much longer. Getting a shared-benefit rider with your spouse is a way to hedge your bets when choosing your benefit period.

Instead of two separate benefit periods, a couple has a pool of long-term-care benefits to split. For example, rather than having three years for each spouse, you may have a total of six years of coverage that either one of you can use. If your spouse needs care for two years, you’ll still have four years of coverage.

Adding a shared-benefit rider to a LTC policy generally costs more than buying two separate benefit periods, increasing the cost by about 16% for a three-year benefit period — six total years of coverage for a couple — and 10% for a five-year benefit period, says Claude Thau, a long-term-care insurance specialist in Overland Park, Kan.

But having the shared benefit may make you feel more comfortable with buying a shorter benefit period.


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Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. This article was written by Kimberly Lankford from Kiplinger and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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