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Navigating the Special Needs Assisted Living Residence Voucher (SNARL) Program for Persons with Dementia: A Guide for Caregivers and Family Members

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia can be both emotionally and financially challenging. Recognizing this, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) initiated a voucher demonstration program in the 2018-2019 state budget to offer financial assistance to residents of Special Needs Assisted Living Residences (SNALRs). This program aims to support aging in place, allowing individuals to remain in a less restrictive, more integrated environment for as long as possible.

Due to widespread support and increasing demand, the DOH paused the approval of new applications in 2023. However, existing voucher recipients continued to benefit without interruption, and those on the waitlist were integrated into the program as new vouchers became available. Importantly, the latest New York State budget for 2024-2025 has permanently established the SNALR program, maintaining funding at approximately $7 million and removing restrictions on the number of participants. This change could allow for future expansion of the program to accommodate more individuals​​.

Here’s an in-depth look at how this program works and how it can benefit you and your loved ones.

Program Background and Goals

The Special Needs Assisted Living Residence Voucher Program is designed to address the financial burdens associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders (ADRD). With increasing life expectancy and the rising costs of care, many individuals with ADRD exhaust their financial resources, often leading to premature enrollment in Medicaid and transitions to more restrictive skilled nursing facilities. This program helps prevent such transitions by subsidizing up to 75% of the average regional monthly cost of SNALR services. The remaining 25% of the monthly rate is typically paid by the family​​​​.

The primary goals of the voucher program are:

  1. Promote Aging in Place: Allow individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia to stay in the most integrated, least restrictive setting possible within SNALR facilities.
  2. Reduce Unnecessary Discharges: Prevent early discharges to skilled nursing facilities, which can delay or eliminate the need for Medicaid enrollment​​.

Eligibility and Application Process

To qualify for the voucher program, residents must meet several eligibility criteria:

  • Diagnosis and Residency: The resident must attest to having a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia and have lived in the SNALR for at least 12 months.
  • Income and Resources: The household income must be equal to or less than the median income in their region, and resources must be less than or equal to six months of the average regional monthly cost of a SNALR.
  • No Recent Transfer of Assets: Residents must confirm that they have not transferred resources or assets amounting to more than three months of the average regional monthly cost of a SNALR within one year prior to the application date.
  • Facility Participation: The SNALR facility must have opted into the program. Residents should check with their SNALR administrator to confirm participation​​.

How to Apply

The application process involves several steps:

  1. Confirm Facility Participation: Ensure the SNALR facility has opted into the program.
  2. Download and Complete the Application: Access the application form and the Quick Guide from the DOH website.
  3. Submit the Application: The completed form can be scanned and emailed to ALTCteam@health.ny.gov or mailed to:

New York State Department of Health

ALTC Team

Empire State Plaza Corning Tower

Suite 1415

Albany, NY 12237​.

Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and are effective for one year, with the possibility of renewal in the second year.

Preparing for the Application Process

Families and caregivers should stay informed about any updates to the program and be prepared to act when the application process resumes. Key financial eligibility guidelines include ensuring that an individual’s resources are less than or equal to six months of the average regional monthly cost of the facility. For example, in Westchester, this amount is $59,958 ($9,993 x 6). Additionally, resources or assets amounting to more than three months of the average regional monthly cost should not have been transferred within the year prior to the application date ($29,979 = $9,993 x 3)​​.

The SNALR voucher program is a crucial support system for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, helping them maintain residency in a less restrictive, more supportive environment. By understanding the eligibility requirements and application process, families can take advantage of this financial assistance to provide better care for their loved ones. For more information and to access application materials, visit the Department of Health’s website or contact the ALTC Team via email at ALTCteam@health.ny.gov​​​​.

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Fairfield-Westchester

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