How long is long term? Many consumers wonder how long is the appropriate length long term care benefits should last. The most popular benefit period 5 years ago was lifetime benefits and we are now discovering that for the vast majority of consumers, this is too long.

The most common purchased benefit period today is 3 years.  Why?  The average length of claim is 2.8 years and more than 90% of the time a claim doesn’t last more than 5 years.  Should a person find they need more than 3 years of help, they have bought a lot of time to financially prepare for more care.

There are also features like Shared Care that allows couples to pool their benefits together.  If you are considering long term care insurance as a couple this feature is a no brainer.   If a couple each buy’s a policy with a 3 year benefit period, they both have access to a combined benefit of 6 years!  One partner could use all 6 years if needed.  It adds significant flexibility for very little added cost.

There are a number of factors to consider when determining whether you want a benefit period
shorter than two years or longer than five, including:

  • – Age and overall health
  • – Family medical history of chronic conditions like dementia
  • – Budget for premiums

Talking with an LTCI specialist can help you evaluate your likely needs, and choose a benefit period that you are comfortable with. You may also be able to change it in the future if your circumstances change.

Finally, once you hit your maximum benefit period and all of the benefits have been paid through your policy the claim is over.  No more money will be paid as you reached your maximum benefit.  While this scenario is unlikely for most if proper planning is done it is something to consider when determining how long you want your benefits to last.

LTC Consumer is an independent, free online service to help consumers understand what long term care insurance is, how it works, and how to evaluate coverage options. Our mission is to provide an educational, no-pressure resource for learning about long term care planning, with the opportunity to speak with specialists who can
help them.