Personal Needs Allowance: Nursing Home Money (#1 of 5, for now)

Most nursing home residents are eligible for a Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) from Medicaid, which varies from state to state.  In New York, for example, the PNA is $50/month.  It’s been $50/month since 1980.  There is no inflation adjustment, but if there had been one, residents would be getting $133.63 in 2011 dollars, according to the inflation calculator I used.  Instead, their $50 in 1980 is now the equivalent of $18.71.

Fifty dollars a month doesn’t go far these days.  A haircut, an off-campus trip, some take-out, and you’re done.  Try buying new clothes on that salary.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting anecdotes about residents and the money issues that arise for them in the nursing home.


Links to money issues posts:

Post 2:

Post 3:

Post 4:

Post 5:

The “Your Money” chapter in The Savvy Resident’s Guide speaks directly to residents about this topic.

Below, Aunt Sylvia Spends Down:


5 thoughts on “Personal Needs Allowance: Nursing Home Money (#1 of 5, for now)”

  1. I'm told it's $30 here in Oklahoma. My ladies that smoke will forgo getting their hair done in order to buy their cigarettes. Or, if they do get their hair done a couple times in a month, that's all they can afford to do.

  2. It's $40 here in Ohio, has been since 1980 too (I believe). Interestingly enough, it's the same amount of money no matter whether you live in a rural area or in downtown Columbus, OH.

  3. K. Tree, cigarettes cost $8-$12 in NYC!

    So not only is there no inflation adjustment, Dr. Lewis, there's no cost of living adjustment either. I've only worked in NYC metro facilities, but I'm guessing it's the same PNA throughout the state, though psychologists fees do vary depending on location.

  4. Dr. El,

    It breaks my heart, when a resident asks me to borrow $2.00 to tide them over until their next check. Okay, they want the money so they can get a bag of chips or candy bar out of the vending machine, but it is something so many enjoy. (Although I never ask for the money back, I have never not had my money returned!)

    As a recreation director, I generally plan low/no cost trips to the community, which I imagine is a little easier in NYC, however, a cost that I can not get around are the cost of tickets to a baseball game. At $25.00 per ticket, a huge discount, it is a small fortune for just about all our residents. At half of what residents receive a month, I figure it's roughly the equivalent of a person making $25,000.00 a year, paying $250.00 for a ticket!

  5. Sue, I used to loan money on occasion, but then wouldn't get paid back and the resident would feel uncomfortable and it would disrupt our relationship. I never loan money anymore, even though I too hate to see the residents in such need. If they're paying you back, that's great. For anyone out there whose loan has not been repaid and the relationship is now damaged, try giving a retroactive gift to restore the balance.


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