If passed, the bill would allow seniors who want to make changes necessary for aging in their homes to deduct the costs of those renovations on income taxes or pay for the improvements out of retirement savings without penalty.
A bill introduced in Congress earlier this month could help seniors pay for improvements to make their homes more accessible and livable as they age.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charlie Crist and Rep. Thomas Suozzi, is called the Home Modification for Accessibility Act and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. If passed, it would allow seniors who want to make changes necessary for aging in their homes to deduct the costs of those renovations on income taxes or pay for the improvements out of retirement savings without penalty.
The proposal is aimed at helping adults who want to age in place as well as avoid injuries in the home and the cost thereof. Home renovations such as ramps and shower bars — any upgrades related to accessibility and safety — could qualify under the bill. However, the bill does include a lifetime cap of $30,000 on the benefits.
Home renovations such as ramps and shower bars — any upgrades related to accessibility and safety — could qualify under the bill.
Rep. Crist said in a statement many homes don’t have these accessibility measures in place, and they can be hard for seniors to afford.
“Given the option, the vast majority of seniors and people with disabilities want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. It’s more comfortable, less costly and improves quality of life,” the 65-year-old Florida congressman said. “Unfortunately, many homes lack accessibility upgrades to make this a reality for seniors on fixed incomes and people with disabilities.”
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Right at Home, a Nebraska-based organization that provides in-home care to seniors, released a statement supporting the bill and singled out as a benefit the role home improvements can play in helping seniors avoid falls. In addition to avoiding injury, these upgrades can also help seniors avoid medical costs associated with falls. Margaret Haynes, Right at Home president and CEO, said older houses can be poorly suited to aging in place.
“Historically, housing design did not take into account the aging process and the physical constraints it imposes on seniors and adults living with disabilities who want to age in their home environment,” Haynes said. “Tax policy to incentivize these much-needed modifications would pay for itself over time with reduced fall risk and less utilization of more costly care options.”
Right at Home also cites research showing almost half of adults over the age of 75 have accessibility issues entering or moving around their homes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 90% of Medicare recipients prefer aging in place, at a time when the population of seniors is increasing more than ever. Crist, in his statement, points out aging in place can also be a financial decision, with nursing home rooms costing up to $8,000 monthly.
As a bill affecting tax policy, the Home Modification for Accessibility Act will need to be approved by the House Ways and Means Committee before it comes to the House floor for a full vote.